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JOHR CHARLES Whm 



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Winners of the Patterson Memorial Cup. 



1905 John Charles McNeil. "Songs Merry and Sad" 

1906 Dr. Edwin Minis. "Sidney Lanier." 

1907 Dr. K. P. Battle. "History of the University of 

North Carolina." 

1908 Captain S. A. Ashe. "History of North Carolina." 

1909 Clarence Poe. "A Southerner in Europe" 

1910 R. D. W. Connor. "Cornelius Harnett" 

1911 Archibald Henderson. "Bernard Shaw" 

1912 Clarence Poe. "Where Half the World is Waking up" 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 



http://archive.org/details/lyricsfromcottonOOmcne 



Lyrics 1 from Cotton Land 



BY 

JOHN CHARLES McNEILL 



Drawings by A. B. Frost, E. W. Kemble, and photO' 
graphs by Mrs. W. O. Kibble 



THE STONE & BARRINGER COMPANY 

CHARLOTTE, N. C. 



Copyright, 1907 
By THE STONE & BARRINGER COMPANY 



publisher's note 

Many of these verses have been published in 
the Charlotte Observer, some in the Century 
Magazine, and the others appear first in this book. 
To the Observer and the Century are due thanks 
for their permission to republish. 



: 



INTRODUCTION. 

The story of a rare, gifted soul is difficult to 
write. The commonplace man is usually the re- 
sultant of forces that can be calculated. The 
measuring line can be laid to his life ; dates, places 
and movements assume great significance. But it 
is not so with the man who approaches genius. 
His soul is a mystery ; its birth and growth defy 
explanation ; dates and circumstances mean little. 
To write a true biography of such a man, inci- 
dents and experiences must be known that lie be- 
yond the research of the scientific student. Such 
a man was the author of the poems contained in 
this volume. And, although custom compels to 
write the usual facts of birth and movement, they 
are written briefly, in the knowledge that they 
have little, significance for the life of the gifted 
spirit which sang these songs to men. ' 

John Charles McNeill was the second son of 
Duncan and Euphemia Livingston McNeill, and 
was born at their country place, near Laurinburg, 
in Richmond county, N. C, on July 26, 1874. 



J^jiRODUCTION 

He grew to manhood on his father's farm, living 
the free, happy, normal life of the country boy. On 
the surface these early years seem to have been 
uneventful ; they were marked by no unusual ex- 
periences or incidents. Work, study, and play 
seem to tell the story. But the achievements of 
his maturer years show these early days to have 
been the determining, formative period of his life. 
A careful and sympathetic examination of his 
writings discovers the fact that almost all the 
dreams, visions, loves, adorations and ecstasies to 
which he gave such beautiful expression, came 
to him in the honest work, clean, healthful play 
and idle roaming about wood and field, in those 
early and, always to him, happy days. He knew 
and loved all the sights, voices and moods of na- 
ture ; he was nature's child, and was true through 
all after years to this Mother of the Mystery. 

In 1893 McNeill entered Wake Forest College. 
The college records show that he was an unusual 
student, and in English his work was little less 
than brilliant. He was tutor in this department 
in his first year, won the Dixon medal, given to 
the best essayist of each year, and was editor-in- 
chief of the "Wake Forest Student." He gradu- 
ated valedictorian of his class in 1898. The pe- 
riod immediately following his graduation seems 



vi 



/ 

INTRODUCTKWf 

to have been one of uncertainty and unhappiness 
to him. He returned to Wake Forest to take his 
master's degree, worked as instructor in English, 
and studied law. During the year 1899-1900, he 
filled the Chair of English in Mercer University, 
at Macon, Georgia, in the absence of the profes- 
sor of English, and did admirable work. In 1900 
he returned to North Carolina and began the 
practice of law at Lumberton. He often said to 
the writer that he was happy in none of these 
things. He was evidently striving to find himself. 

McNeill had some success in the practice of his 
profession, and he was elected to represent the 
people of his county in the State Legislature. 
But his heart was in other things. He would 
often shut his office door to friend and client and 
try to write out some vision that floated in his 
soul. The "Century Magazine" accepted and pub- 
lished some of his productions and asked for other 
contributions. He did work for a local paper 
and wrote occasionally for various papers and 
journals. More and more he came to find his joy 
in self-expression; and his writing began to at- 
tract the attention of the public. 

In 1904 the "Charlotte Observer" discovered 
the promise in this gifted man, and gave him his 
chance. He was attached to the staff of that 



vu 



INTRODUCTION 

paper and given perfect liberty of action. He 
could write what he pleased and when he pleased, 
and received for his work a regular and adequate 
compensation. Under such treatment he found 
himself. His soul seemed to burst into blossom ; 
and during the three years of his connection with 
the "Observer" he gave to the world almost all 
his best work. In 1905 he was awarded the Pat- 
terson Cup, and a year later published his first 
volume of poems under the title "Songs, Merry 
and Sad." Although this volume was published 
by a local firm, it found ready sale and the edi- 
tion was soon exhausted. 

In the early months of 1907 some disease, baf- 
fling to friends and physicians alike, began to take 
hold upon him. For months he fought a brave 
fight against it and seemed for a while to be re- 
gaining his strength. But, suddenly, almost with- 
out warning, acute nephritis attacked him and he 
fell its victim, dying on the 17th of October, 1907. 

McNeill was a man of unusual physical appear- 
ance ; his tall, straight, slender figure, his thick 
iron-gray hair and handsome features made him a 
marked man in any company. His eyes were re- 
markable. In his careless moods there was noth- 
ing unusual in them; but when his soul was 
aflame with some inner vision, his eyes glowed 



vm 



INTRODUCTION 

with a light that was both beautiful and com- 
pelling in its magnetism. 

He had the open, free and cordial manner o* 
the gentleman born and reared in the country. 
He knew little and cared less for social conven- 
tions. There was about him that charming un- 
consciousness of self that one so often sees in the 
people who live close to and love the genuine 
things of nature. It is the estimate of all who 
knew him well that McNeill was one of the most 
lovable of men. His unselfishness, his freedom 
from cant and pretension, his love of and joy in 
life, his perfect candor and his power to love and 
be interested in the people about him, made him 
a peerless friend. And in many the sorrow for 
the loss to the State and Nation of this fine, rare 
and gifted spirit, was overshadowed by a sense 
of personal bereavement. 



IX 



THE PATTERSON MEMORIAL CUP. 



Magnificent Trophy as an Incentive to the De- 
velopment of Literary Talent in North Carolina. 



Philadelphia, March 24. — As a memorial to her 
father, the late Colonel William Houston Patter- 
son, of this city, and as an incentive to the devel- 
opment of the literary talent of the sons and 
daughters of the Old North State, Mrs. Lindsay 
Patterson, of Winston-Salem, has had manufac- 
tured here one of the most massive and magnifi- 
cent loving cups that Philadelphia jewelers have 
ever seen. This cup is to be presented to the 
North Carolina Historical Society, and by that 
society is at the end of the year to be turned over 
to that resident, native North Carolina writer who 
shall have achieved the greatest literary success 
during the year. At the end of ten years, it is to 
become the property of the person who shall have 
won it the greatest number of times. 

Because of its extraordinary beauty, and be- 
cause of the story of filial love behind it, it has 
attracted great attention. 



X] 



THE PATTERSON MEMORIAL CUP 

The cup is of gold and of massive construction. 
Jt stands 16 inches high, and is seven inches in 
diameter. On the bases of the three handles are 
the coats of arms of North Carolina, Pennsyl- 
vania and the Patterson family. It is studded 
with forty-nine precious stones, all being North 
Carolina gems, selected by Mrs. Patterson from 
over 400 specimens. It bears the inscriptions : 
"The William Houston Patterson Cup," and "Cor 
Cordium" (Heart of Hearts). — Philadelphia Cor- 
respondent to "Charlotte (N. C.) Observer." 



XII 



PRESENTATION OF PATTERSON 
MEMORIAL CUP. 

In the Senate Chamber in the State Capitol, 
Thursday morning, October 19, 1905, President 
Theodore Roosevelt, representing the North Car- 
olina Literary and Historical Association, pre- 
sented to Mr. John Charles McNeill, of Charlotte, 
the Patterson Memorial Cup, awarded him for 
having published during the preceding twelve 
months work showing "the greatest excellence 
and the highest literary skill and genius." Lieu- 
tenant-Governor Winston, representing the Gov- 
ernor, presented the newly-elected President of 
the Association, ex-Governor C. B. Aycock, who 
then stated the object of the Cup and the condi- 
tions of the award. According to the notes fur- 
nished by Mr. Loeb, the President said : 

"Mr. McNeill : I feel, and I am sure all good 
Americans must feel, that it is far from enough 
for us to develop merely a great material pros- 
perity. I appreciate, and all of us must, that it is 
indispensable to have the material prosperity as 



xiu 



PRESENTATION OF PATTERSON MEMORIAL CUP 

a foundation, but if we think the foundation is 
the entire building, we never shall rank as among 
the nations of the world ; and therefore it is with 
peculiar pleasure that I find myself playing a 
small part in a movement, such as this, by which 
one of the thirteen original States, one of our 
great States, marks its sense of proper proportion 
in estimating the achievements of life, the achieve- 
ments of which the Commonwealth has a right to 
be proud. It is a good thing to have the sense 
of historic continuity with the past, which we get 
largely through the efforts of just such historic 
societies as this, through which this Cup is 
awarded to you. It is an even better thing to try 
to do what we can to show our pleasure in and 
approval of productive literary work in the pres- 
ent. Mr. McNeill, I congratulate you and North 
Carolina." 

Mr. McNeill's reply follows: 

"Mr. President, my joy in this golden trophy is 
heightened by the fortune which permits me to 
take it from the hand of the foremost citizen of 
the world. To you, sir, to Mrs. Lindsay Patter- 
son, our gracious matron of letters, and to the 
committee of scholars whose judgment was kind 
to me, all thanks." 



xiv 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

Mr. Nigger i 

Spring 4 

Hardihood 6 

A Protest 7 

Preacherly Preference 8 

Springtime 9 

^One Sided 1 1 

'T ain't Long 13 

^JJluffers 14 

Nigger Demus 15 

Wishing 18 

The Catfish 20 

^olk Song 23 

Three Hypotheses 24 

A Modest Ploughman 26 

,>The August Meeting 29 

Salutations 32 

Po' Baby 33 

'Ligion 34 

*A Few Days Off 35 

I Noontime 37 

xv 






\ 



■ 

CONTENTS 

PAGE 

Diseases 39 

A Tar Heel 41 

Every Man's Way 42 

A Summer Resort 43 

The Trickster Tricked 45 

/.Be Shame 50 

A Dream of You , 51 

Environment 53 

'Possum Time Again 55 

i psft oah's Ark 56 

A Monologue 62 

De Three Frosties 63 

' Punishment 64 

Obedience 65 

^Weather Signals 66 

/-Utopia 67 

The Raccoon 68 

The Crow's Shadow 70 

In a Canoe 72 

^-"Maming the Animals 75 

The Red Shirts 77 

t Poor Old Ben 79 

For Corn Shuckings 81 

One Day 82 

A Hindrance ... 84 

l^A Pallet Sleeper 86 

Substitutes 87 

xvi 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

Bedtime 89 

The Persimmon Tree 91 

Believing Where We Cannot Prove " 94 

Convenient Theology 95 

Baby's Noggin 97 

Black Molasses 98 

Old Aunt Pleasant 100 

The Crown of Power 103 

The Rejected Scotsman , . 104 

A Soft Snap 109 

Ambition no 

.sJThe Siesta 112 

The Diediper 114 

Snakes 116 

Mysteries 118 

Baby's Legs 119 

Grass 120 

The Varmint Convention 121 

The Coon from the College Town 124 

If 126 

Tot and Ted 127 

Boys' Visions 130 

Holding Off the Calf 133 

When the Calves Get Out 135 

Cats 137 

To Alfonso XIV 141 

A Tomtit Messenger 144 

xvii 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

To One Who Is Good , 146 

Dew , j 147 

Race Suicide 148 

The First Flower 150 

Dead.-. 152 

Viewpoints 155 

Old Jim Swink 156 

The Doodle Bug 159 

Autumn 163 

The Three Tots 165 

At the Dance 167 

Selfishness 171 

Deserted 173 

Grandaddy-Long-Legs 174 

The Castle Builder 175 

To-Morrow 177 

A Choice 179 

The Iron Door 181 

The Tenant 183 

Horsemint 184 

In the Woods 186 

To Sleep 188 



XVlll 



MR. NIGGER 

How could we do without you, 

Mr. Nigger? 
Could we not talk about you, 

Mr. Nigger, 
We 'd have to quit our politics, 
'T would put our papers in a fix, 
We 'd have to start and learn new tricks, 

Mr. Nigger. 

Ah, ragtime would be sadly misst, 

Mr. Nigger!. 
There 'd be no elocutionist, 

Mr. Nigger. 
The coon-song's flow would then be checked, 
The minstrel show would soon be wrecked 
And writers of your dialect, 

Mr. Nigger. 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

I cannot see, if you were dead, 

Mr. Nigger, 
How orators could earn their bread, 

Mr. Nigger; 
For they could never hold the crowd 
Save they abused you long and loud 
As being a dark and threatening cloud, 

Mr. Nigger. 

But plough my land and barn my crop, 

Mr. Nigger. 
I '11 furnish sorghum for your sop, 

Mr. Nigger. 
And see you earn your money's worth, 
Else, when dull times possess the earth, 
I '11 burn you to excite the North, 

Mr. Nigger. 

You 're a vast problem to our hand, 
Mr. Nigger. 



MR. NIGGER 

Your fame is gone throughout the land, 

Mr. Nigger. 
The heart of all this mighty nation 
Is set to work out your salvation, 
But don't you fear expatriation, 

Mr. Nigger. 



SPRING 

I axed de chillun fer de joke 
Dat made 'em laugh en run. 

"It ain't no joke," dey says ; "we 's jis' 
Er-natchly havin' fun." 

I axed a rooster mockin'bird, 

When I had cotch his eye, 
"Why does you sing all day en night?" 

Says he, "I dunno why." 

I axed a yearlin' why he pawed 

De dust up in de lane. 
He bellered out his sass, "Boo-boo! 

I feels lak raisin' cain!" 




" King Cotton." 

Hibiscus Gossypium. 

Malvaceae (Mallow Family). 



SPRING 

En den de chillun, bird, en kef 

Axed why I felt so good. 
S' I, "Don't ax me. Kerwhoop !" says I. 

"It 's supp'n' in my blood !" 



HARDIHOOD 

De drouf hit pahched our crap at fust 
En de rain done drown it now, 

But whe'r it freshet or whe'r it dust 
De crabgrass gwine a grow, 

Grow, 
De crabgrass gwine a grow. 

De cawn jis' want some scuse to quit, 
En cotton's a reg'lar chile, 

But de sun kin scawch en de rain kin spit, 
But de crabgrass wear a smile, 

Smile, 
De crabgrass wear a smile. 



A PROTEST 

De cawn is drapped en civered 
Fer de crow to grabble out. 

De shoat he fin's de 'tater bed 
Befo' dey 'gins to sprout. 

De hen hatch out her chickens 
Whilst de hawk bees lookin' on, 

En 'fo' de cherries ripens good 
De birds is got 'em gone. 

Dey all steals fum de nigger man, 

But if de nigger steals 
Dey putts him on de chaingang 

Wid a weight behin' his heels. 



PREACHERLY PREFERENCE 

I laks to plough in a stubble fiel' 

Among de dews en damps, 
Whar now en den yo' plough turns up 

A passle er fox-fire lamps. 
De dirt slide off er de turn-plough whing 

En rumple in turnin' over, 
Wid de dead crab-grass en de dead peavines 

En a few green clumps er clover. 

But keep me out er de new-groun' Ian', 

'Ca'se I 's a preacher, boss, 
En no preacher wa'n't made fer no new-groun' 
han' 

Behin' no fidgity hoss. 
De roots, en switches, en stumps, en hoi's, 

En de briers — I tells you plain, 
When I ploughs sich new-groun' Ian', it gives 

My 'ligion a powerful strain ! 

8 



SPRINGTIME 

O catfish in de eddy, 

When de moon is in de full ! 
O watermillion ready 

'Mongs' yo' dewy leaves, to pull ! 
O choofies, sugar-rooted ! 

Us women en us men 
Is all done back bar'footed, 

'Ca'se de springtime's come again. 

De bullbat 'gins to beller 

Across de shimmery hill. 
T ain't long befo' a feller 

Kin hear de whuppoorwill. 
De hawk sets roun' en watches 

De biddies wid de hen, 
Er-scratchin' in de doodle dust, 

'Ca'se springtime's come again. 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

Dirt-daubers soon be squealin', 

Shapin' up deir mud, 
En a sort er sleepy feelin' 

'LI git gwine along yo' blood, 
Till you lose yo' holt, en dozes, 

En jerks, en wakes up — den 
De fus' thing dat you knows is 

Dat de springtime's come again. 



I© 



ONE SIDED 

Is I boun' to keep de Sabbath day, 

When de hawk goes free? 
Is I boun' to set in my yahd en pray 
En let dem crows in de cawn-patch stay 
En grabble en tote my cawn away? 

Hit's funny to me ! 

If de varmints '11 knock-off workin', too, 

En set in de sun, 
I'll rest en pray de whole day thoo; 
But, if dey goes loose en is gwine a do 
Wut dey pleases, den 'tain't Shoo, shoo ! 

But it 's Bang ! wid de gun. 

It's mighty po' rest to be shet in a stall, 
Lak you got no sense ; 

II 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

It's mighty po' prayin' when de watch-crow call 
Fum de scare-crow's head, en de chicken squall; 
En it's mighty po' 'lie-ion when Sunday's all 
Dis side er de fence ! 



12 



T AIN'T LONG 

Tie a new cracker 

Upon de ol' lash; 
Roll up de log heaps 

En burn all de trash ; 
Scooter de newgroun', 

Dreen out de pon' ; 
Bone off fer cotton 

En bed up fer cawn. 

'T ain't long 'fo' drappin' 

De seed in de groun' ; 
'T ain't long 'fo' choppin' 

En sidin' aroun' ; 
'T ain't long 'fo' tassels 

En blooms gits in prime ; 
Uh-uh! it ain't long 

'Fo' lay in '-by time! 



BLUFFERS 

Buzzin - ' white-nose bumblebee, 
Buzz en buzz yo' whing; 

Dart off faster 'n I kin see, 

En shoot back whar you used to be. 

You can't putt no bluff on me : 
You don't tote no sting ! 

Adder, hissin' at my toe, 

You ain't got no p'ison ! 
Draw yo' head en strack yo' blow. 
Spread yo' jaws wide out, jis' so. 
You can't fool me. You don't know 

Who you got yo' eyes on. 



14 



NIGGER DEMUS 

Dis is anudder Sunday when I done fugit my 

specks. 
I '11 hatter 'pen', my bruddern, 'pon de 'memb'- 

ance er de tex'. 
'N' if you-all wants a snow-white tent up hyander 

in de skies 
You better keep de Scripters in yo' head, en not 

yo' eyes. 

Now, while de hat is pas' aroun' by Bill en Poly- 
phemus, 

I 's gwine a tell you supp'n' 'bout dat gre't man, 
Nigger Demus — 

But watch de hat, my bruddern, when dey goes 
to make deir change: 

Dey's good folks, but in spite er dat don't give 
'em too much range. 

15 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

Ol' Nigger Demus come by night, as we is 'sem- 

bled now ; 
He didn' have time to come by day, beca'se he 

had to plough; 
En Jawn de Baptis' met him en he ax him whar 

he 's gwine, 
En Demus say he want to know wut chu'ch he 

better jine. 
Jawn watch' a cloud across de moon, en study 

little while. 
En den he turnt to Demus en he says, "You makes 

me smile." 
Says 'e, "De Baptis' chu'ch," he says, " 's de 

chu'ch you otter jine, 
'Ca'se, glory halleloolyer ! in de fus' place, it is 

mine. 
"En den," says 'e, "it 's natchel : de dog he lacks 

to swim, 
But it take' a sight er creepin' 'fo' you git to 

sprinkle him; 

16 



NIGGER DEMUS 

De tarpin he look up en see a shower comin' on, 
En chook! he dive' fum off his log deep down 
into de pon'." 

"Dat 's so," says Demus — dat a-way — "I laks to 

dive myse'f, 
But 'fo' de rain kin ketch me, Jawn, I sho runs 

out er bref. 
So some day when it 's good en warm en de 

sun come out to shine, 
You tell me whar yo' chu'ch is at, beca'se I 'ten's 

to jine." 

He didn' know no doctrine, but he knowed a sign 

en wonder, 
En so he went wid Jawn one day, en Jawn he 

putt him under. 
En dat's why Sal en Bill en Ben en Heck en ol' 

Br'er Remus 
En all de niggers jine de chu'ch jis' same as 

Nigger Demus. 

17 



WISHING 

I wisht I wus a hummin' bird. 

I 'd nes' in a wilier tree. 
Den noth'n' but supp'n' wut goes on wings 

Could ever git to me. 

I wisht I wus a snake. I 'd crawl 

Down in a deep stump hole. 
Noth'n' 'u'd venture down in dar, 

Into de dark en col'. 

But jis' a nigger in his shack, 
Wid de farlight in de chinks — 

Supp'n' kin see him ever' time 
He even so much as winks. 



18 



WISHING 

It 's a natchel fac' dat many a time 

I wisht I wus supp'n' wil' ; 
A coon or a' owl or a possum or crow — 

Leas'ways, a little while. 

I 'd lak to sleep in a holler gum 
Or roost in a long-leaf pine, 

Whar nothin' 'u'd come to mess wid me 
Or ax me whar I 's gwine. 



*9 



THE CATFISH 

When de nights is warm en de moon is full, 
You kin ketch mo' cats dan you cares to pull. 

No trouble 'bout de bait ; 
A grub '11 do or a liT fat meat, 
Fer all he wants is supp'n' to eat, 

En he ain't no han' to wait. 

Ner dar ain't no trouble 'bout luck wid him. 
You kin tie yo' line to a swingin' limb, 

En when you goes to look, 
You'll fin' dat limb a-dodgin' roun', 
En bubbles risin' en floatin' on down, 

En a catfish on yo' hook. 

But I chooses to take a pole in mine 
En git in a splotch er bright moonshine 

20 



THE CATFISH 







it* 



" I LETS HIM SHOW HIS MAN " 



51 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

En fish dar wid my han' ; 
I knows, den, when he hits his lick 
(He swallows de hook; you needn' be quick), 

En I lets him show his man. 

When I slings him out on de good dry grass, 
He don't complain, but he's full er sass. 

He kicks a little while, 
Den lays dar, wid a pleasing look, 
En, while I's rippin' out de hook, 

He takes it wid a smile. 



22 



FOLK SONG 

If you don't b'lieve dat train kin run, 

Honey ; 
If you don't b'lieve dat train kin run, 
Come en lemme tell you wut de train done done, 

Honey. 

It lef Savanner at de settin' er de sun, 

Honey ; 
It lef Savanner at de settin* er de sun, 
En it fotch me home by half-pas' one, 

Honey ! 



23 



THREE HYPOTHESES' 

If Marse Adam wus white, Rose Anner, 

If Miss Eve wus white lak him 
(Dat's how de pictures makes 'em; 

De Scriptur' 's a leetle dim), 
Den whar did de nigger come fum? 

'T wus a pine wid a 'simmon limb; 
If Marse Adam wus white, Rose Anner, 

En Miss Eve wus white lak him. 

If Nora wus white, my honey 

(Nora wut built de ark) 
Den de nigger 's a sort er a bluebird 

Hatch out fum de tgg er a lark. 
But dat don't never happen, 

En dat question still bees dark, 
If Nora wus white, my honey, 

En his chillun in dat ark. 

24 



THREE HYPOTHESES 

I is a sunburnt white man, 

'F a minner 's a little trout. 
You mus' go deeper'n dis here hide 

To git de nigger out. 
'F you skint me slam fum head to heel, 

New nigger-hide 'u'd sprout. 
Yas; I's a sunburnt white man — 

'F a minner's a little trout. 



*5 



A MODEST PLOUGHMAN 

When crabgrass gits a half a show, 
'Count er some rainy clays, to grow 
En fuzzes green along de row, 
'T ain't wuth while den to try to hoe 

Dat whole plantation clean. 
De bes' way is de way dat 's cheap, 
En I kin take a two-inch sweep, 
Runnin' at p'int two inches deep, 

En kill out Gineral Green. 

Yes ; gimme sich a plow as dat 

'N' I '11 hoi' my upright frame plum flat, 

En whar dat grass wus sich a mat 



26 



A MODEST PLOUGHMAN 

You couldn' tell whar a hoe been at, 

I '11 wrop dat cotton roun' 
As neat en cool wid fresh black dirt 
As a man's body fits his shirt, 
En reg'lar — not right here a spurt .'■;". 

En hyander grassy groun'. 

Farmers is got a heap to l'arn 
'Fo' dey gits wut 's comin' to deir barn. 
If, 'stid er har'n' hoe-han's en har'n' 
Plough-han's wut ain't wuth a darn, 

Dey 'd all git men lak me, 
Dis county 'd brag de bigges' sales 
Er cotton seed en cotton bales, 
Spite er spring drouth en 'noctial gales, 

On dis side er de sea. 

En dis ain't whoopin' up myse'f. 
De crabgrass natchly hoi' its bref 
When I comes 'long ; 'ca'se dat means de'f ; 
It knows dar ain't none gwine be lef, 

27 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

Whar I has made my tracks. 
I says dis jis' beca'se it 's so. 
I kinder thought you 'd lak to know. 
Don't think I 's tryin' to brag en blow ; 

I alius deals in fac's. 



28 



THE AUGUST MEETING 

It wus at our Augus' meetin' 

When dar wa'n't nigh room f er seatin' 
All de sinners en de saved wut come to it ; 

But dar wa'n't no pride en poutin' ; 

Dey fell in line to shoutin' 
Lak dey 's gwine git all de 'ligion dey could git. 

I ain't er-tryin' to fool you, 

But when Heck bawl, "Halleloolyer !" 

All dem niggers bounce right up en 'gin to 
prance, 
En when ol' Heck would holler 
Den dem common coons would foller, 

Till de flo' wus full er people in a trance. 

You could see de preacher swayin' 
En er-preachin' en er-prayin', 

29 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

But you couldn' hear de loudes' word he sayed. 
De benches kep' er-breakin', 
En de fuss dey kep' er-makin* 

Teared wuss 'n all de fuss dey 'd done en made. 

Now, Ander is a nigger 

Wut 's too quick upon de trigger ; 

His eyes is white as snow, his gums is blue ; 
When Heck ram' up ag'in' 'im, 
De scrappin' blood riz in 'im, 

En he retch en fotch his razor fum his shoe. 

Some ubbm friz to Ander, 

En dey hilt Heck over hyander, 
Whilst de chillun en de gals wus runnin' out. 

Den Heck haul back en hit 'im, 

Dat bluegum nigger bit 'im, 
En de whole chu'ch full er gemmen up en fou't. 

Dar wus razors, knives, en wrenches; 
Planks fum offen busted benches, 
En some ubbm made a club er deir brogans. 

30 




Polygon atum Commutatum. 

convallariaceae (llly-of-the-v alley family). 

(Solomon's Seal.) 



THE AUGUST MEETING 

Oh, dey putt one ner to sleepin' 
Wid ever' sort er weepin', 
En I seed one fool er-fightin' wid his han's. 

Wid all deir fights en trances, 

Deir holy shakes en dances, 
Dey stayed dar till de roosters 'gun to crow ; 

En de rain beat out de cotton, 

De fodder hung dar, rotten, 
En de shattered peas wus sproutin' in de row. 



31 



SALUTATIONS 

How is you dis mornin'? 

I 's so 's to be about. 
En yo' pi' man is well, I hopes ? 

Yes ; he gits in en out. 
En how is all de f ambly ? 

Dey ain't complainin' none. 
En yo' po' conju'd, hoodooed boy? 

Lak a lizzud in de sun. 



32 



PO' BABY 

Wut make' you keep on cryin' en cryin' ? 

I do' know wut to do. 
Dar ain't no pin dat I kin fin' 

Er-stickin' in you. 

I b'lieve you 's jis' er-makin' out, 

Er-thinkin' maybe 
Dat I 's er-gwine a tote you 'bout, 

Sayin', 'To', po'baby!" 

Po' baby, is he feelin' sick? 

Po' baby, is he ailin'? 
Come on ! Less us play a trick ! 

Whoopee ! Ain't we sailin' ! 



33 



'LIGION 

De Augus' meetin' 's over now. 

We 's all done been baptize', 
Me en Ham en Hick'ry Jim 

En Joe's big Lize. 

Oh, 'ligion is a cu'i's thing 
In its workin' amongs' men! 

We '11 hatter wait a whole yur now 
'Fo' bein' baptize' again ! 



34 



A FEW DAYS OFF 

I ain't gwine a work till my dyin' day ; 

'F I ever lays up enough, 
I's gwine a go off a while en stay; 

I'll be takin' a few days off. 
'Ca'se de jimson weeds don't bloom but once, 

En when dey's shed dey's shed; 
En when you 's dead, 'tain't jis' a few mont's, 

But you's gwine be a long time dead. 

I knowed a' ol' man died powerful rich — 

Two mules en Ian' en a cow. 
I jis' soon die fum fallin' in a ditch, 

Fer he went to 's grave fum 's plow. 
He never had nothin' 't wus good to eat 

Ner no piller upon his bed ; 
He never took time to dance wid his feet, 

But he's gwine a take a long time dead. 

35 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

I knowed a' ol' ooman wut scrubbed en hoed, 

En never didn' go nowhar, 
En when she died de people knowed 

Dat she had supp'n' hid 'bout dar. 
She mought 'a' dressed up en 'a' done, supp'n' 
wrong 

En had 'er a coht-case ple'd'. 
But she didn' have time to live veh long ; 

She's gwine have a plenty dead. 

So I says, if I manage to save enough 

Fum de wages I gits dis yur, 
I is right den takin' a few days off 

At one thing en an'er. 
'Ca'se while I is got my mouf en eyes 

En a little wheel in my head, 
Ps gwine a live fas', fer when I dies 

I'll sho be a long time dead. 



36 



NOONTIME 

M^ shadder shortened slow, 

Roun' by roun', 
En [ thought dat dinner horn 

'U'd never soun' ; 
But de sun kep' on er-crawlin' 
Till at las' dat horn wus callin', 
En my lines wa'n't no time fallin' 

Tu de groun'. 

When I laid dem harness back 

Orv de beam, 
Dat mule he woke up wide 

En quit his dream. 
He didn't need no paddle 
En I didn't need no saddle. 
Me en him — Skeedump, skeedaddle !- 

Wus a team! 

37 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

If you 'd er-seed us gwine 

Home dat day, 
You 'd 'a' thought 'twus dat wus gittin 

Us our pay, 
Fer dat po' ol' sleepy critter 
Made de geese en chickens scatter, 
En her ol' feet went clap-clatter 

Ton de clay. 

Her feelin's wa'n't so powerful 

Fur fum mine. 
It makes a dififer'nce wut 's ahead 

En wut 's behin'. 
Wh'er it 's to er fum de table, 
Wh'er it 's in er out de stable, 
Wut make you ail'n' er able 

'S whar you 's gwine. 



38 



DISEASES 

(illustrating folk etymology) 1 

I once et too much sparrowgrass : 

Dey thought I 's dead, '11 I breaved on glass. 

Cornsumption wrastle mighty strong; 
St. Fighter's dance fou't fast en long; 

De foxfire got amongs' my spleen, 
En yaller johnnies turnt me green; 

Brownskeeters would n' lemme breave, 
En de collard-marbles made me heave. 

But I kyored myse'f, as you kin see, 
Wid calamis root en horehoun* tea» 

Ner all my life I ain't seed fit 
To go to no horse-spittle yit. 

39 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

But now, fer all de fights I 's fou't, 
I 's feared at las' I '11 git knocked out, 

Fer de toughest rail er all de riders 
Is boun' to be dis pender-ciders. 

When it hits a man, de only plan 
Is to go right natchly in dat man, 

En rummage 'roun' en kyarve about 
Till you gits dat pender-ciders out. 

No kine er calamis en tea 

Gwine keep dat zease fum sett'n' you free, 

En dis here nigger he don't brag, 
But 'roun' his neck he totes a bag, 

En in dat bag — jis' sniff en see- 
Bees a ball er assyfidity ! 

40 



A TAR HEEL 

Oh, I gits my stren'th fum white-side meat, 
I sops all de sorghum a nigger kin eat, 
I chaws wheat bread on Saddy night, 
En Sunday 's when my jug gits light. 

I kin cut mo' boxes 'n a shorter while, 
Den any 'er coon fer forty mile'; 
I kin dip mo' tar en scrape mo' scrape 
En leave my crap in better shape, 

En chip en pull en corner finer, 
Den any 'er coon in No'th Killiner. 
When it comes to bein' a turk'ntime han', 
Count Loftin fer a full-size' man. 



41 



EVERY MAN'S WAY 

Out in the town I 'd die if people knew 
I took this little glove and kissed it so ; 

Last thing at night, when footfall sounds are few 
And she who wore it sleeps as still as snow. 

For, if they saw me, they would laugh, and I 
Should blush and drop my eyes and turn in 
shame 

And curse me for a fondling fool and try 
To laugh and rob my folly of its fame. 

But now the door is shut ! and I can bless 
And kiss this wrinkled scrap, and care no whit 

How great my heart may grow with tenderness 
Or what dear love-words I may say to it. 



42 




Cornus Florida. 

CORNACEAE (DOGWOOD FAxMILY.) 

(Flowering Dogwood.) 



A SUMMER RESORT 

Under and in a dogwood tree 
They 've made a modern fine hotel, 

Owned by nobody but these three, 
Mary, Alex, and Isabel. 

They 've laid the ground floor off in squares 
For rooms and hallways big enough ; 

The dogwood limbs are winding stairs 
Up to the leaves, which are the roof. 

Down near the ground the tree sends out 
A fork, and thus it makes the door, 

Where Alex stands or struts about, 
Both porter and proprietor. 



43 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

Mary is cook and waitress too, 

Isabel she keeps the house, 
And all three take their turns to do 

The milking of. the Maypop cows. 

This is to be a summer home 
For folks elsewhile in city pent, 

And I, their press man, beg you come. 
(The weekly rate is flat one cent.) 

Fear not lest you be turned outdoors. 

The place stands good for any boost. 
For, if no ground space should be yours, 

They '11 put you on the stairs to roost. 



44 



THE TRICKSTER TRICKED 

/^ong ways furrt home I wus huntin' my cow. 

She'd done en los' her bell, 
En which-a way she wus traveling how 

Does you reckin I could tell ? 
Hongry en hot, weak en tar'd, 

I wus 'bout to turn aroun', 
When I seed ol' Rattler grabblin' hard 

Atter supp'n' in de groun'. 

I breaks a switch en twis' it 'bout 

Down dar, en den I pull 
Till my holt break, en dat switch bring out 

A passle er 'possum wool! 
'T wa'n't many minutes, bless yo' life, 

'Fo' I felt lak anudder man: 
I wus gwine on home to see my wife 

Wid a 'possum in my han'! , 

45 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

Knowin' his ways, I hilt him so 

He couldn' ketch my pants. 
He'd not take long to do his do 

'F I gin him half a chance. 
'Twus up hill den, en down hill now, 

Lak a man wut's bein' paid — 
When all er sudden I seed my cow 

Asleep in a dog'ood shade ! 

"Whoo-hee !" I hollered : up she flounce, 

En her runnin' wus enough. 
Right den I, too, wus on de bounce 

To head dat heifer off. 
Fergittin' wut wus in my han', 

I flop him 'g'inst my shin. 
It didn' take long to change my plan 

When I felt dem teef sink in. 

At fust I tried to snatch him loose, 

But one jerk made me quit; 
Dat varmint had to have some scuse 

46 



THE TRICKSTER TRICKED 




AT FUST I TRIED TO SNATCH HIM LOOSE 



47 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

Befo' he gwine a spit. 
I laid down, lak I 'us fallin' sleep, 

Workin' de 'possum trick, 
But smiles wus powerful hard to keep, 7; 

'Ca'se it hurt lak a thousan' brick ! ' 

When he felt his tail done been sot free,. 

He thought 'twus time to go. 
I reck'n he j edged he 'us foolin' me, 

'Ca'se he open' his mouf right slow. 
He started off — but we wa'n't gone fur 

'Fo' Rattler counted in, 
En 'doubt no cradle or nairy a song, 

Putt him to sleep ag'in. 

I let dat cow go on her way, 

Runnin' herse'f a race. 
You kin drive yo' cow home any day, 

But a 'possum's meat is sca'ce. 
Oh, I sucked his bones en sopped his juice. 

Thinks I, "Now wa'n't dat slick! 

4 S 



THE TRICKSTER TRICKED 



Dis possum I's et didn' have no scuse 
To be beat at his own ol' trick." 



49 



BE SHAME! 

Little baby, wut you see? 

If you knowed, 
You could n' tell ; you never is 

Done more 'n crowed. 

I 'd be shame', I would, 

To look so wise, 
Bein' solemn, den er-smilin' 

Wid my eyes. 

If I wus you, you baby, 

I 'd be shame' 
To look at supp'n' wut I did n' 

Know its name ! 



50 



A DREAM OF YOU 

Into my fevered brain, 

My hot, unhappy blood, 
Like showers of summer rain 

Upon a thirsty wood, 
Fair as the first far cloud 

Adrift in April's blue, 
There came, white clad and beauty browed, 

A dream of you. 

A heaven song sung on earth; 

A vision deserts know, 
Mocking their weary dearth, 

Of glades where roses blow. 
But day-dawn came and wept, 

A wet wind wailed and blew. 
Would I had never waked ; had kept 

My dream of you! 

5' 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

'T was a vandal-hearted fate 

That willed that I should see, 
Standing without the gate, 

Life as life could be. 
'T was a cruel dawn that brought 

Tidings so falsely true, 
That the heaven that smiled was only a 
thought, 

A dream of you. 



52 



ENVIRONMENT 

Or/ bull, you pawed de dus' ontil 

It settled on yo' back. 
You bellered 'cross de grassy hill, 

En yurlin's cl'ared yo' track. 
You hooked de clayroot 'ca'se 't wus red, 

En you could n' stan' fer dat. 
You had big notions in yo' head: 

'T wus spring, en you wus fat. 

But now yo' back 's bowed, en yo' ha'r 

*S er-standin' up on een'. 
It 's dead grass, dead grass ever'whar, 

But not a tussick green. 
You disremembers how you run 

When I went atter you, 
En how I sweated in de sun, 

En how you sholy flew. 

S3 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

Oh, you kin stan' behin' dat stack 

En nibble at de straw, 
But d' ain't no dus' upon yo' back ; 

You do' know how to paw. 
You could n' beller now, ner run ; 

You 's glad enough to stan'. 
'T wus grass en water en hot sun 

Wut made you sich a man. 



54 



'POSSUM TIME AGAIN 

Oh, dip some 'taters down in grease 
En fling de dogs a 'tater apiece. 
Ram yo' brogans clean er tacks, 
Split de splinters en fetch de ax. 
It 's 'possum time again! 

Catfish tender, catfish tough, 
We 's done et catfish long enough. 
We 's tar'd er collards en white-side meat, 
En we 's gwine have supp'n' wut 's good to eat. 
It 's 'possum time again ! 

De pot 's gwine simmer en blubber en bile 
Till it gits scummed over wid 'possum ile. 
But le' 's don't brag till we gits de goods. 
Whoop ! Come along, boys ! We 's off to de woods. 
It 's 'possum time again! 

55 



NOAH'S ARK 

I 's studied all 'bout No-y's ark, 

Its len'th en width en height ; 
I 's laid awake en studied 

En dremp er it at night : 
En how dem three boys wut he had 

Could feed up all dat stock 
Beats me, 'ca'se six mules eats enough 

Er cawn fer me to shuck. 

Deir women mus' 'a' holp 'em some, 

'Twix* scourin's en 'tween meals, 
Er else dem mules en hogs en goats 

'U'd been as lean as eels ; 
En all dem bosses, deers, en sheeps, 

En ever' cow en kef, 
En all de geese en gawslin's would 

'A' perished slam to def. 

56 



NOAH S ARK 

Den, when de flood dry up en quit 

En de summer drouf come on 
En No-y turnt dem cattle out 

En all de grass wus gone, 
How come dey kep' deirse'ves alive? 

'Ca'se all dey lak'd to eat 
Wus drownded fust, en den 't wus pahched 

Wid overhettin' heat. 

Dar ain't no way, at dis late day, 

To tell how many died 
En never took no part at all 

When de yeth wus multiplied. 
If all de beasties in dat ark 

Had 'a' come out safe en soun' 
Dar 'd be too many in de worl' 

Fer de grass to go aroun'. 

Dem animills de circus brings 

Civers all forms en shapes 
Dat any man kin think about, 

57 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

Zebus, bucks, en apes ; 
But dey ain't half as many as 

Dar prob'bly mought be er 'm 
If No-y 'd had as much good hay 

As he had water fer 'm. 

But I turns over in my bed 

En dreams anudder mess, 
En wut de answer to it is 

Dan'l he couldn' guess : 
I dreams how No-y could 'a' fed 

Dem beasties wut won't eat 
No hay ner dough ner grass ner cawn 

Ner anything but meat. 

Dar wa'n't but seven rabbits dar : 

One for each fox wus all. 
De seven frogs mus' look out whar 

Dem seven snakes gwine crawl. 
En dat ol' rooster en his hen 

Dey had to tote de mail 

58 



NOAH S ARK 

When seven hongry foxes smelt 
De sweetness er deir trail. 

Yas, bruddern, I can't figger why 

Marse No-y's tabby cat 
Didn' eat up all de birds dar wus 

Dis side er Ararat; 
En, if dem cages wa'n't right strong, 

I would 'a' made a guess 
Dat, 'fo' dey landed, one big b'ar 

Would 'a' et up all de res'. 

Oh, man, dat wus a roarin' time ! 

It wus a rowdy house : 
Dem hongry lines could smell, nex' cage, 

'Possums en sheeps en cows; 
Dem tigers dey could smell de hens 

En ducks en drakes en geese, 
En, if dey growed savygus, dat 

Wus natchel fer a beas'. 

59 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

You chillun, hongry as you is 

Fer dis here picnic dinner, 
'Long side er dem 'ar wolves, 'u'd be 

Jis' a bran new beginner ; 
You had yo' brekkus, but dem wolves, 

Wut No-y 's boun' to hyur, 
Wus howlin', 'ca'se dey hadn' had 

Nothin' in half a yur. 

En den dem varmints wut wus clean 

Had seven fer ever' rout : 
One male er one shemale, fer sho, 

Wus boun' to be lef out. 
En when dey come to makin' love 

Dar mus' 'a' been some hate, 
'Ca'se ever' time dey counted off 

One didn' have no mate. 

En, finely, bruddern, 't wa'n't so bad 

Dat dey wus in de dark 
(Dar wa'n't but one liT winder, chile, 

60 



NOAH S ARK 

In all dat gre't big ark) 
So when dey fell to fightin', dey 

Could n' tell which way to go ; 
Dey had to sniff en listen good 

En move oncommon slow. 

En when I studies 'bout dem days 

En thinks upon dat flood, 
I 's happy, seem' a rainbow, 

As a cow wut chaws her cud. 
En if I *d been Marse No-y, 

En mought 'a' had my wish, 
I 'd 'a' dove f um out dat winder 

En swum off wid de fish. 



6i 



A MONOLOGUE 

De 'possum up de tree 

He sot en look' at me, 
En when I got de moon 'twix' me en him, 

Says I to him, "So, so! 

Oh, I 's comin' up, you know, 
En I 's gwine a yank you loose fum dat 'ar limb !" 

Says I, "Don't putt on airs. 

You better say yo* prayers. 
De preacher 's gwine be wid me Saddy night, 

En he 's glad to eat a 'possum 

As a gal to git a blossom, 
En his mouf is big en, gosh ! his teef is white!" 



62 



DE THREE FROSTIES 

De fus' fros' browns de simmons, 
En gits de cur dogs fat, 

En purples up de simmon leaves 
To show whar dey is at. 

De nex' fros' gits de 'possum 

Big en fit to eat : 
It fills his hide wid simmon juice 

En greases up his meat. 

But 't ain't until de third fros' 
De nigger 'gins to roam, 

En takes his torch en cur en ax 
En fetch dat 'possum home. 

63 



PUNISHMENT 

I laks to go to coht en see 
Dem lawyers scrappin' all fer me. 
Dat big jedge, wid de preacher look, 
Readin' in dat-ar yaller book, 
Dem twelve big juries, listenin' close 
To how I broke ol' Davy's nose, 
En all dese people wut you see, 
Dey 's all in here beca'se er me. 

If I gits out, de gals is mine; 
Dey laks a man kin cut a shine. 
If I gits in, dey '11 feed me free, 
En keep me warm, en let me be 
As fat en lazy as I kin. 
I kinder hope dey '11 putt me in. 



64 



OBEDIENCE 

Min' yo' ol' mammy, chilluns, 

Smokin' in de do'! 
Don't be mean, now, since she can't 

Outrun you any mo'. 



65 



WEATHER SIGNALS 

When I want to know if it 's gwine a snow, 

I calls my Sambo in. 
If he 's kinder scaly 'bout de legs 

En ashy on his chin, 
If his hide bees rough lak redoak bark, 

Checked off 'n a reg'lar row, 
Sometime 'twix' dat en de fall er dark 

Dar 's gwine a spit some snow. 



66 



UTOPIA 

When I gits rich I means to use 
Whar de mule he hatter have some scuse 
Fer Iookin' sad ; whar de tomcat own 
Dese hot still nights a megaphone; 
Whar de billygoat, whuruver he goes, 
Totes a hanksher fer to blow his nose ; 
Whar de fice gits paid a ration er meat 
Fer ketchin' things wut he won't eat ; 
En whar, when a man make' up to a gal, 
She kin take her ch'ice er go to jail. 



67 



THE RACCOON 

If wut you want is a' easy snap, 

A 'coon can't he'p you none, 
Less'n you ketch him in a trap 

Er kill him wid yo' gun. 
All he needs is a fightin' chance, 
En he '11 make you pray fer leather pants 
En '11 lead yo' cur-dog sich a dance 

Dat he 's glad when he gits done. 

He 's little, but, Lawd ! he got de san\ 

When you is laid him out, 
You needs a stick to he'p you stan', 

'Ca'se yo' head bees whirlin' 'bout. 
Oh, his fur is warm en his tas'e is sweet, 
But he makes you pay fer his hide en meat ; 
Whar he bites wid 's mouf er claws wid 's feet 

Yo' blood is gwine a spout. 

6S 



THE RACCOON 




YO' HEAD BEES WHIRLIN' 'BOUT 



' >DnTrn< » 



69 



THE CROW'S SHADOW 

The crow flew high through the summer sky, 

But a mute and tireless hound, 
O'er the meadow-sweeps and up the steeps, 

His shadow, skimmed the ground. 

However so high he climbed in the sky, 

O'er river and wood and town, 
That shade that crept where the wide earth slept 

Followed and drew him down. 

Like a deathless hate or a pitiless fate, 

Like the love of Moab's Ruth, 
Or the smouldering fire of an old desire, 

Or the sin of a reckless youth, 



70 



THE CROW S SHADOW 

Wherever he went till his life was spent, 

In cloud or in forest dim, 
It chased where he led. and where he fell dead 

It was waiting to die with him. 



71 



IN A CANOE 

The curious current wanders wide 
Its guardian swamps from side to side 
And mirrors dimly in its tide 

The leafless arch, 
Through which, with herald trumpet, stride 

The winds of March. 

When, 'twixt-whiles, they forego their stress, 
There falls a vasty loneliness, 
Such as some city might impress 

On pilgrim hearts, 
Where a gray hush holds in duress 

Deserted marts. 



7* 



IN A CANOE 

Then, lo, a feathery tinge of green 
About yon willow, faintly seen; 
And, where those gnarly maples lean, 

Lo, lightly spread, 
Spring's gossamer, a woven sheen 

Of passionate red! 

And yonder, those bare limbs among, 
Red as the rose that blooms ere long, 
The cardinal sits, his bird-heart strong 

With joy refound, 
Himself a blaze of light, his song 

A blaze of sound. 

Now, when the winds once more take wing, 
The great trees shout and groan and swing 
The reedy brakes go whispering 

Of seasons fair, 
And in my heart the thrill of spring 

Where dead thoughts were, 

73 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

Till wind and rippling stream and bird 
Sing to my pulse in monochord, 
And all their song is one wild word : 

"New! new!"— 
New hope, fresh purpose, dreams new-stirred, 

And skies all blue ! 



74 



NAMING THE ANIMALS 

When Adam wus namin' de beasties en birds, 

De insexes, fishes, en snakes, 
Dey come along pas' him in droves en in herds, 
En it took turble thinkin' to think up dem 
words — 

Mules, elephants, yethworms, en drakes. 

How you reckin he come to say lizzud, en fox, 

En tarpin, en buzzud, en bee, 
En hoss, en bull-sparrow, en cuckroach, en ox, 
En 'possums, en coons, en chickens, en hawks, 

En tiger, en catbird, en flea? 

He didn' have time den to study en spit ; 

He had to keep 'long wid de game. 
He had to putt up wid de bes' he could git. 
Wutuver wus passin' he had to name it 

Right dar in its tracks wid a name. 

75 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

Jxs' mule don't mean nothin', ner jackdaw ner 
mink 

Ner moccasin, rabbit, ner dog ; 
En him en Miss Eve didn' have time to think, 
En dey didn' have time den to eat er to drink 

Er even set down on a log. 

But dey done purty well. You try it en see. 

It 's hahd to name even a blossom. 
Yit wut could you call a bee but a bee ? 
'N' if you sees a 'possum way up in a tree, 

You can't think er nothin' but 'possum. 



76 



THE RED SHIRTS* 

I laks red watermillions wut 's juices' when dey 

's red, 
I laks red hankshers, washin' days, aroun' my 

ooman's head, 
I laks to shuck de red yur, en red lemonade goes 

good, 
De Lawd he sot gre't sto' by red in fillin' me wid 

blood ; 
But when I sees a red shirt, folks, right den is 

when I hushes 
En reaches up en gits my hat en totes it to de 

bushes. 

En dat 's de way it alius is : de coon he travels 
roun' 



♦Disfranchisement in North Carolina, 1898. 

77 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

En gits a drink to he'p 'im up, but de drink it 

th'ows 'im down ; 
He gits a wife to do de work about his little f ahm, 
But she 's so triflin' in her ways she natchly doos 

him hahm; 
En 'ca'se de nigger laks red things — even red ile 

in his lamp — 
De white man gits a red shirt fer to make him 

quit de camp. 



78 




Coreopsis Lanxeolata. 

Compositae (Composite Family). 

Wild Coreopsis. Tickseed. 



POOR OLD BEN 

Light my pipe en lemme smoke 
Nigh de far er pine en oak. 

I 's so ol' en po'ly. 
Chillun, I is seed a heap; 
It 's 'bout time I gwine to sleep, 

'Ca'se I needs it, sholy. 

Dis ol' nigger 's done his shur. 
He done shuck' his las' red yur, 

Weighed up his las' cotton. 
Now he 's bit wid rheumatiz; 
When he walks you sees he is 

Hamstrung en hip-shotten. 



79 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

Stick a shingle at his head. 
Write on it dat Ben is dead, 

Den, in hot er col' times, 
Mistis see it, en she say, 
'To' ol' Ben!"— j is' dat a- way, 

Thinkin' er de ol' times. 



FOR CORN SHUCKINGS 

Oh, come along, come along, Mandy gal ! 

I 's a gwine off many a mile. 
Did a rainbow ever do you wrong? 

Did a catfish ever smile? 

It snowed all night dat hot June day, 

En I says to my gal, say I, 
"Oh, gal," says I, en I says, "Oh, gal," 

En den I pass on by. 

De apple tree bloom in de winter time, 
En de leaves shed in de spring, 

En all I wants is a little rhyme 
To go wid my banjer string. 



81 



ONE DAY 

Silent and high a gray hawk wheeled. 
Noise of the city, song of the field 
Mingled and mellowed their music in one. 
Low in the zodiac circled the sun. 

Over the valleys the morning was fair, : 
Keen with the tingle of frost in the air ; 
Over the mountains a dim mist hung, 
Veiling the slow hills, rung by rung. 

Faint was the laughter of children at play ; 
Bells in the meadow seemed far, far away ; 
Happy the voices of maidens that met : 
Oh, 't was a season to hope and forget ! 



82 



ONE DAY 

I had not changed, if I had been God, 
One shrouded mountain, one goldenrod, 
Where, in his halcyon garment, gold-spun, 
Low through the zodiac circled the sun. 



S3 



A HINDRANCE 

You need n' do nothin' but roll in de dirt. 

I '11 give you yo' eatin' en give you yo' shirt. 

I don't speck yo' he'p when I 's hoein' our farm. 

You kin do wut you please, if you '11 quit doin' 
harm. 

Why 'n't you sleep in de shade at de eend er de 
row? 

I 'd as well go on home en hang up my hoe, 

If you 's gwine a scramble en crawl on de groun' 

En roll on de cotton en mash it all down. 

Stay whar I putt you ! Don't foller my trail ! 

You mus' 'pen' on dis crap fer yo' winter shirt- 
tail. 

If it 's me dat mus' feed you en give you yo' 
clothes, 

You mus' stay whar I tells you en play wid yo' 
toes. 

84 



A HINDRANCE 




" STAY WHAR I TELLS VOU, EN PLAY WID YO' TOES " 



B5 



A PALLET SLEEPER 

I wish a man had a turnin' bed, 

'Ca'se he roasties his feet en freezes his head. 

When he gits all wrop' up in his civer 

He can't turn roun' en he won't turn over. 

Dat big far keep on gwine all night 
(You kin tell dat fum de chinks bein' bright) 
En de heat fum de far en de win' fum de hole 
Keeps one een' hot en de udder een' col'. 



86 



SUBSTITUTES 

We ain't gwine have no turkey 

Less'n we kills him wil', 
But we '11 have a pot er cooter soup 

Scum' over wid cooter ile. 

We ain't gwine have no poun' cake 
When dat Chris'mas dinner come, 

But '11 eat dat cracklin' bread all up 
En hunt anudder crumb. 

We mought not have no liquor 
To make us dance aroun', 

But 'simmon beer goes purty good 
Atter it settles down. 



87 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

In case we don't have powder, 
We won't give up our fun: 

We '11 slam a plank ag'in' de groun' 
Loud as a Chris'mas gun. 

We all won't go er-huntin'. 

We '11 save our shot en caps, 
En 'pen' fer all de birds we gits 

Upon our peckridge traps. 

We got no hoss to travel wid, 
But we got a kyart en bull, 

En dat 's enough, Gord bless yo' soul, 
Fer all we haves to pull. 

Oh, folks is fools to cry en cuss, 
'Ca'se deir ves' ain't red en blue ! 

If you ain't got de spohtin' goods, 
De homespun goods '11 do. 



88 



BEDTIME 

A peddler travelin' late wus cotch 

Out in a turble rain 
Wut sont him runnin' to a house 

Up a long straggly lane. 
He did n' know dat house wus whar 

Somebody 'd kilt a man ; 
He did n' 'spicion ha'nts in dar. 

Oh, my! Oh, my Ian'! 

He laid down on dat shanty flo', 

Er-listenin' at de rain, 
But purty soon he hyeard supp'n' else, 

But he did n' hear it plain. 
En den it sounded louder, so 

He 's boun' to onnerstan' 
A ghos' wus edgin' up on him, 

Oh, my! Oh, my Ian'! 

89 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

Don't you be feared to go to sleep. 

Now, honey, be a man! 
Dat 's right, den — civer up yo' head. 

But, my ! Oh, my Ian' ! 

He laid dar, listenin' all he could 

En nigh 'bout scared to def . 
Dat ha'nt crope up, en crope so close 

Dat he could feel its bref . 
En den he felt supp'n' reachin' roun' 

Lak a graveyardy han' ; 
Dat peddler could n' speak er move. 

Oh, my ! Oh, my Ian' ! 

Now, honey, run en hop in bed. 

I ain't gwine tell no mo' 
Wut happen to dat lonesome man 

Er-shiverin' on dat flo'. 



90 



THE PERSIMMON TREE 

De limmon tree is de only tree 
*T ain't cut when de woods is cl'ar'd. 

It "s de only shade in de cotton patch 
Fer a man wut 's hot en tar'd. 

It *s de only tree wut make a man 

As good as a yaller cur ; 
Fer a man kin slip aroun' at night 

Fum one tree to an'er, 

En treckly th'ow his eye up one 

En look up it a minute, 
En way up hyander, 'twix' de moon, 

He see a possum in it. 



91 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

It 's de place to lay yo' chillun at 
So dey won't keep a-cryin' ; 

It 's de place to spread yo' cotton sheet 
To save de dew fum dryin'. 



De cider piggin sets dar cool, 
Wid yaller bubbles crusted, 

En de dog-day watermillion know 
Dat 's whar it gwine be busted. 

De sheep scratch off his wool on it, 
En de sow chafe off her mud, 

En, dinnertime, de cows comes dar 
To lay en chaw deir cud. 

If 't wa'n't fer it you could n' git 

No simmon beer to drink, 
Ner fin' no simmon wut you eats 

When its sweet hide 'gins to swink ; 

92 



THE PERSIMMON TREE 

Acorns 'u'd be de shoat's bes' chance; 

De cur 'd be skin en bones; 
En de fiel's 'u'd be as b'ilin' hot 

As dem dar horrid zones. 



How come dey leaves it on de fahm 

Amongs' de cawn en sich, 
It natchly don't eat up de Ian' 

But makes it sandbed rich. 

En atter it bees dead en gone 
En all de stump done rotten, 

Right dar you '11 fin' de heavy cawn 
En de thickes'-fruited cotton. 

So when yo' furrow take you pas' 
A simmon somewhar down it, 

Nemmine if you does leave some grass, 
You swing yo' plow clean roun' it. 

93 



"BELIEVING WHERE WE CANNOT 
PROVE" 

Among the earliest memories that linger in my 

heart 
Is one of old Aunt Phibby Ann, who drew me far 

apart 
And told me, so mysteriously I thought I must 

have sinned, 
That, though it ain't ingenly known, a sow can 

see the wind. 

The wind is mostly blue, she said, but sometimes 

green or red, 
And that is how a sow can tell the weather on 

ahead. 
But a mist has always dimmed my thought — a 

mist that never thinned — 
It being how old Aunt Phibby knew a sow can 

see the wind. 

94 



CONVENIENT THEOLOGY 

I allus has a feelin', 

When I hears a fiddle squealin* 

En a banjer-picker pickin' off de time, 
If de chu'ch do stan' ag'in' it, 
Dat dar ain't much danger in it, 

En dat cloggin* ain't no sich a turble crime. 

When de gals' heels gits to tappin* 
En de coons gits down to clappin', 

Den's when I clogs beca'se— oh, 'ca'se I must ! 
Till de tin pans gits to shakin' 
En de flo' boa'ds gits to quakin* 

En de far look dim to see it thoo de dust. 



95 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

De Lawd he laks good niggers, 

Whahfo', here is how I figgers : 
I knows de Lawd '11 do wutever 's good ; 

He made me, heel to noggin ; 

If dar wus much hahm in cloggin' 
He never would 'a' putt it in my blood. 



96 



BABY'S NOGGIN 

It do look lak we 'd all be dead 

When you feels de top er a baby's head. 

De sides 'r 'is noggin don't come nigh meetin', 

En way up dar his pulse is beatin'. 

Jis' s'pose supp'n' shahp 'u'd fall on dar: 
It 'u'd be jis' lak thone water on far. 
Er s'pose supp'n' heavy 'u'd drap on his head : 
You could n' say Scat 'fo' he 'd be dead. 

His noggin 's jis' bones, but his brains dey grows, 
En I wants to ax if you all knows 
Why de brains, since dey got de runnih' start, 
Don't prize dat openin' f udder apart ? 



97 



BLACK MOLASSES 

Cawn bread en black molasses 

Is better dan honey en hash 

Fer de fahm-han' coon 
En de light quadroon, 

Along wid de po' white trash. 

You pours it out fum de jug, lak dis ; 
You sops it up fum de pan. 

En it bees so good 

It he'ps yo' blood 
2n makes you much of a man. 

It 's better wid cooter gravy, 
En buttermilk he'ps it some, 

En a piece er catfish 

On de side er de dish 
Feels good 'twix' yo' finger en thumb. 

9 3 



BLACK MOLASSES 

But jis' de bread en de 'lasses, 
Widout any doin' en dash, 

Is enough fer de coon 
En de light quadroon. 
En enough fer de po' white trash. 



99 



OLD AUNT PLEASANT 

Long time 'fo' you wus bawn 

My mistis wus yo' ma. 
En now you 's grown en gone, 

En I mus' call you "sah." 

Wut'sdat? Jis' call you "honey?" 
Huh ! you 's got rich so fas', 

Wid Ian' en stock en money, 
Dat name 'u'd soun' lak sass. 

Nemmin', I holp yo' ma, chile, 

To fix en primp en dress, 
En it nuver took me no long while 

To make her look her bes\ 



ibo 



OLD AUNT PLEASANT 

Den I 'd stan' at de winder pane, 

A-lookin' out en hummin' ; 
En mistis say, "Kin you see de lane? 

Pleasant, ain't he comin' ?" 

She meant yo' pa. 'T wa'n't nuver long 

Till 'e rid up, flashin' fine, 
En den 't 'u'd 'a' made you sing a song 

To 'a' seed yo' ma's eyes shine. 

I holp her on her weddin' night 

Put on her weddin' clothes ; 
Fum head to heel dem clothes wus white, 

P>ut her cheek was lak a rose. 

I jis' do' know how long it 's been. 

Wut, guess ? I do' know how. * 

But I knows dat my young mistis den 

Is my ol' mistis now. 

roi 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

Law bless de chile ! Dat 's lak ol' times ! 

Ho much is dis here money ? 
Dis here 's a half a pint er dimes. 

Now 1 1 will call you honey 1 



102 



THE CROWN OF POWER 

De rooster 's crowed, de big bell 's rung. 

Git outen de bed, ol' lady ! 
Roll outen de bed, en hoi' yo' tongue, 
En fry dat white-side wut I brung, 

En git my brekkus ready. 

Bill, git up f um yo' pallet dar ! 

Stick yo' leg into yo' britches, 
En when you is kandled up a far, 
Go grub till brekkus hyander whar 

De briers is took de ditches. 

Sal, you is triflin* fit to kill, 

En foolish as a sheep. 
Go fetch some light'ood fum de hill. 
Now, all you little coons keep still 

En lemme ketch some sleep. 

103 



THE REJECTED SCOTSMAN, 

I. REJECTED 

Hoot ! Ye say ye winna hae me, woman ? 

A Hielandman, right frae the banks o' Lomon' ! 

Sayin' I 'm rough, that hair shocks oot my ears, 

That hair hings o'er my een, my hands jist bear's, 

Hairy, hairy a', lak the fiend, an' rough. 

Haud, woman ! Say na mair, haein' said enough. 

Lang hae I looked across the starmy sea, 
Thinkin' Amariky was ca'in' me, 
O' a' her w'alth an' how her lassies dear 
Had lairdly acres, herds, an' mickle gear, 
An' how sae kind they wair, sae finely weeded, 
An' how a Hielandman was a' they needed. 



104 



THE REJECTED SCOTSMAN 

Woman, ye ken na what I am. 
Nae sark-tailed shepherd wi' 'is yowe an' ram : 
Frae an auld stock I spring that spilt mair blocd 
Than coursed your daddies' veins since No-y's 

flood. 
Ye need na turn, an' shake, an' dry your ee : 
Na woman will I hae winna hae me! 

2. TOLD ON 

The hizzy might hae kep' it tae hersel'. 
Sae prood she was she could na hellup but tell ; 
An' now frae her big braggin' comes to pass 
T is kenned by effery ither village lass, 
Wha, when they see me comin', squeak an' say, 

"I want na man wham ithers wadna hae!" 
Weel, gang your ways, ye little gigglin' sillies, 
An' wed, God rest ye, wi' your ain town billies 
(Pale little lads, wham I could mak' tae mind me 
An' whip them a' wi' one hand tied behind me), 
An' brag tae them abou' the honest man, 

105 



LYRICS tROM COTTON LAND 

Frae wham, for their slim sakes, ye squeaked an' 
ran. 

Tauld it, yiss ! an' may a' ill befa' me 

If "h'isted Scotsman" isna what they ca' me! 

I '11 hae it on them : in my ain countrie 

Ilk lass wad die tae gang tae kirk wi' me ; 

An' there I 'II wed some chieftain's sprightly 

daughter — 
If this deil's-gossip comes na o'er the water ! 



3. COALS OF FIRE 

Whist, Peggy, woman ! Pass these houses here 
Bonny an' prood an' spry, wi' mickle cheer ; 
Look at me sae, an' smile intil my face — 
Look lovin', if it be God gies ye grace ; 
Nar fear I wad your winsome passion check 
If ye sho'd hing your airms abou' my neck ! 

106 



THE REJECTED SCOTSMAN 

{Aside) 
Now let the hizzies peep as we gang by, 

An' deil a cheek amang them will be dry! 
I '11 spraid mysel' an' step wi' lairdly gait, 
Stare cauld on Peggy, my unwarthy mate ; 
I "11 vvark my shaulders an bulge oot my chist, 
That they may rue the braw man they hae misst. 

If ony o' them mark us, or their mithers, 
'T winna be lang in gaein' tae the ithers — 
How that the "h'isted Scotsman" in his pride 
Gaed past them wi' his ain rid-headed bride, 
Which canna hellup but burn them tae the bane 
(Na kennin' Peg 's a sister o' my ain). 

4. ONE SIDE OF IT 

It gars me greet how women a' must wait 
Until a man comes knockin' at their gate. 
Their lives must be sae mirky wi' regret 
For the braw men they lo'ed but could na get. 

107 



LYRICS FROM. COTTON LAND 

It is na fair tae mak' them haud their voice 
An' never hae the dares tae name their choice. 

Ye askit, did ye, why I never wed ? • . 
I was na fool enough tae lose my head. 
Ah,, lad, on baith sides o' the starmy sea 
There hae been lassies pined an' died for me — > 
Bonny sweet lassies ither men fought o'er 
An' fared nae better after than before. 

Yiss, there be women, auld an' warn an' gray, 
Wha wanted me, but could na tell me sae, 
'T is weel, nae doot ; for it had been unkind 
Tae tell them that they did na suit my mind. 
Nae Hielandman, bred on the braes o' Lomon', 
Wad be sae beastly tae a gentlewoman. 



108 



A SOFT SNAP 

I 's tar'd er work, I is, 
En I 's gwine a shirk my biz. 

I 's a yaller coon, 

En late en soon 
I 's gwine a rest, I is. 

I 's gwine a teach a while ; 

En den I '11 preach a while: 
It 's easy teachin' 
En easy preachin', 

En I 's gwine a gi' 'm a trile. 



109 



AMBITION 

I ain't decided what I '11 be. 

It 's sortie hard to tell. 
Sometimes I think I '11 go to sea 

An' try the sea a spell. 
Sometimes I think I '11 take an' try 

My chances on the Ian'. 
But anyhow I aim to be 

A mighty turble man. 

No ; Susie would n' kiss me 

When we played the game o pawn. 
An' Billy laughed at my bow legs 

An' ast to try 'em on. 
An' Jim sayed I was sunburnt 

Jis' like a Croatan. 
They '11 hate this when I git to be 

A mighty turble man. 

no 



AMBITION 

They 'li come into my palace. 

I '11 be dressed up in silk. 
They '11 say, We 're pore an' hungry, sir, 

An' want some buttermilk. 
I '11 give 'em wine an' honey, 

An' then I '11 rise an' stan' 
An' say, 'T was me you th'owed off on — 

A mighty turble man! 

They '11 whimper then, you bet they will, 

An' wish that they was dead. 
An' when they git down on their knees, 

Lak kneelin' at yore bed, 
An' beg me not to kill 'em, then 

I '11 ketch 'em by the han' 
An' say, Don't ever laugh no more 

At a sunburnt, bow-leg man ! 



Ill 



THE SIESTA 

I tells 'em to please 

Bile a dinner er pease 
En set me a table out under de trees, 

Den lemme be fed 

Wid a pone er corn bread 
En ingerns ; den lemme lay down on a bed. 

Oh, de skeeter kin sting 

En de dirt-dauber sing, 
De housefly kin tickle my yur wid 'is whing ; 

De chillun kin bawl, 

De cuckroach kin crawl 
Up my britches, en ganders en peafowls kin 
squall ; 



112 



THE SIESTA 

Oh, the dishes kin break 

En de shetters kin shake 
But all kin er fusses can't keep me awake, 

'Ca'se it takes more 'n dese 

T' onsettle my ease, 
When I's et a good dinner er corn-pone en peas. 



"3 



THE DIEDIPER 

De diediper swum on de millpon', 
En de nigger crope roun' de dam, 

En cock his gun en took good aim 
En pull de trigger, blam ! 

But 'fo' de bullets got dar 
De diediper done dove down. 

He dove, en dove, en den pop up 
En 'gin to floatin' roun'. 

De nigger crope thoo bushes 

Till he got anudder trile. 
De diediper dove, en dove, en dove, 

But he pop up atter while. 



114 



THE DIEDIPER 

So he shot his caps en powder 
En his ramrod, too, away, 

But de diediper floats upon dat pon' 
En swims right dar to-day. 



"5 



SNAKES 

De whup-snake drags a platted tail. 
He runs as straight as a railroad rail. 

He got no voice, but slick en sof 
He '11 twis' hisse'f aroun' yo' wais', 
En lick his col' tongue in yo' face, 

En whup yo' shirt-tail off. 

De hoop-snake roll lak a waggin tar. 
His horn '11 sting you wuss 'n far. 

But he can't 'pen' on his eyes. 
He '11 slam his horn right in some tree, 
En dar he '11 stay en dar he '11 be 

Till de tree en him bofe dies. 



n6 



SNAKES 

You hits de j'int-snake in de grass, 
En he busties up, jis' same as glass, 

En den you thinks he 's dead ; 
But *fo' you goes to mill en back, 
He 's done j'ined up, en dar 's his track, 

Whar he cross' de sof san'-bed. 



117 



MYSTERIES 

How de flyin' squir'l fly is a wonder to me, 
En how a blacksnake kin clamb a tree 
Is a wonder to me. 

How a catfish breave I jis' can't tell, 
En a chicken, befo' he busties his shell. 
No. I can't tell. 



118 



BABY'S LEGS 

Babies' legs is alius bowed. 

Deir legs ain't never straight. 
Why, mistis, ain't you never knowed 

You can't do nothin' but wait ? 

He hoi's his heels up all de time, 

En p'ints 'em at de sky. 
It 's too soon yit fer him to try 'm. 

Dey '11 come right by en by. 



119; 



GRASS 

It 's good de grass is late to sprout 
En gives de cawn some start, 

'Ca'se, if dey sprung togedder, dey 
'U'd never tease apart. 

De grass is had to fight its way 

Ag'in us all so long, 
Dat, fum its reg'lar wras'lin', 

It grows up powerful strong. 

It grows so strong dat, if you ups 

En leaves it to itse'f, 
Dis grass '11 fight dat udder grass 

Till dey chokes deirse'ves to def. 



1 20 



THE VARMINT CONVENTION 

When de varmints hilt deir meetin', 

Honey-loo, honey-loo, 
T wus a long time dey wus greetin' en er-treatin' 

en er-eatin' 
'Fo' dey 'cided in dat meetin' 

Wut to do. 

Br'er Coon he took a notion, 

Loo-honey, honey-loo, 
'T wus his time to make a motion. 

(Chicken, shoo-shoo-shoo.) 
"If de motion gwine prevail, 
Ever' man jis' raise his tail ; 
Don't, de motion 's gwine a fail." 

(Hoo-doo, hoo-doo.) 



121 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

Br'er Possum grin a little, 

Honey-loo-oo-oo, 
En he say it wa'n't de gemman 

Thing to do. 
"Br'er Coon know' it ain't fair. 
His tail 's got rings en hair, 
But mine is slim en bare. 

(Boo-hoo, boo-hoo.) 

"More *n dat, it ain't fair totin', 

Loo-loo, honey-loo. 
Marse Goat 's done done his votin' 

'Head er you. 
How kin it be fair totin'? 
'T ain't nothin' but jis' goatin'. 
Marse Bill 's gwine keep on votin' 

Clean thoo." (Oo-oo.) 



Wid dat dey falls to fightin', 

Loo-honey, honey-loo. 



122 



THE VARMINT CONVENTION 

Bless Gord, it wus a sight, 'n' 

Dat is true. 
De goat walk up a rail, 
Shake his little stubby tail, 
En den he tote de mail. 

(Oh, loo-hoo-hoo.) 



123 



THE COON FROM THE COLLEGE TOWN 

Oh, dress up, ladies, finer 'n you is, 

'Ca'se you 's gwine wid a man wut knows his biz. 

De cawn-fiel' han' en de cotton-patch nigger, 

De laborin' man don't cut no figger, 

When it 's Come along, ladies, en foller me roun', 

De dead-game spoht fum de college town. 

I totes my guitah wid a shoulder strap, 
En now en again I gives it a rap, 
Er-hummin' ol' chunes fum way down Souf, 
Wid a cigaroot rollin' aroun' in my mouf. 
1 'd be plum white, if I jis' wa'n't brown, 
Fer I feels at home in de college town. 



124 



THE COON FROM THE COLLEGE TOWN 

I kerries de notes wut 's boun' to go 

Fum de boys to de ladies on Faculty row. 

Fer singin' at night I gits mo' pay 

Dan my pi' man gits fe* ploughin' all day. 

When dar 's supp'n' to drink, I swallers it down, 

'Ca'se I gits wut 's gwine in de college town. 

Oh, I gits to look at de ball game free 
Fer thone up fouls wut flies toge me, 
En de tournament costies me nary a cent, 
'Ca'se I sees wut way de tennis balls went. 
En dey couldn' git along on de football groun' 
If it wa'n't fer de coon fum de college town. 

My britches belonged to a rich young man ; 
My coat 's a jim-swinger en my ves' is tan ; 
My collar en tie, my shoes en my socks, 
When dey fus' wus bought dey costed de rocks. 
A spoht by day en at night a clown- 
On, sich is de life er de college town ! 

125 



IF 



"If I had gold," the ragged plodder said, 
"Fame's laurel soon would aureole my head. 
For eloquence and beauty in my heart 
Lie waiting for the leisure-need of art." 

"If I were poor," said he of idle days, 
"Then might I gain a people's pride and praise. 
But fame shuns fortune, making effort vain. 
All greatness grows from poverty and pain." 

Oh, patient if! Burdened with all who fail, 
Thine is a heart-sore, never-ending tale ! 
And they who plead thee know the hero's lance 
Must brave the armored breast of circumstance. 



126 



TOT AND TED 

If Tot and Ted would sit up late 
Till all the coals died in the grate 
And all the house grew still and dark 
And Man, the cur, would not dare bark ; 

If they sat still and bolt awake 
And would not leave till broad daybreak, 
Their pains would be worth while, because 
They'd get to see old Santa Claus. 

So fat is he, so small the flue, 
*T were nice to know how he gets through 
And does not leave a track of soot 
About the hearth to mark his foot. 



127 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

But Ted and Tot will not sit up. 
The sandman and the sleepy cup 
Will fill their eyes and drowse them so 
They'll fall asleep jbef ore they know. 

Santa will see them when he comes 
Lugging his load of dolls and drums, 
And he will smile, as who should say, 
"I wish grown folks could sleep that way." 

And when he fills their stockings full 
Of slings and sweets and things to pull, 
He'll look at head and curly head, 
And say, "Good-by, old Tot and Ted." 

How down the chimney does he squeeze ? 
How climbs he back with unskint knees ? 
Don't ask me questions, Ted and Tot : 
You watch and see the how and what. 

128 



TOT AND TED 

If you can stay awake — just so — 
From sundown until rooster crow 
And watch for Santa's furry hood, 
You'll be the first that ever could. 



129 



BOYS' VISIONS 

S'pose I could fly ! 

I bet you I would brag, 
Fer not a gal in school could take my tag. 
I 'd keep my wings hid till they 'mos' got there 
'N* nen I 'd sail up, laughin', in the air, 
Danglin' my heels a leetle out o' reach, 
An' toss 'em back a biscuit er a peach I 

If I could fly, 

I wouldn't go to school, 
Ner go to mill a-straddle of no mule. 
I 'd jis' sail out an' see what I could fin', 
Fer ever 'thing I saw, you know, 'd be mine. 
Bloodhoun's an' 'tectives jis' 's well go die. 
I wouldn't make no tracks, if I could fly. 



130 



BOYS MSIONS 

K I could fly, 

I 'd do like Robin Hood, 
An' rob the other robbers in the wood. 
I 'd run frum them a little ways, right slow, 
An' nen I 'd say, "Bye, bye," an' up I 'd go 
With all the diamonds what the robbers had. 
My ! but don't you know 't'u'd make 'em mad ! 

If I could fly, 

I 'd build a house o' stone, 
An' nen I 'd need a wife, when I got grown. 
I 'd ast the king to lemme have his gal, 
Callin' 'im to 'is face ol' pard an' pal, 
An' when he wouldn', I 'd jis' say, "That 's 

tough," 
An' pick the princess up an' tote her off. 

If I could fly, 

I 'd buy 'em things at home, 
A new stove an' a skillet an' a broom, 
A fine horse with a ribbin on his tail, 

131 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

'N' nen I 'd gittum a new milkin' pail. 
I bet I 'd make 'em think an' study some. 
Ma 'd say, "Where — do — these — things — come- 
f rum ?" 



132 



HOLDING OFF THE CALF 

The\ all '11 tell you I wouldn't mind 

A-holdin' the kef at all 
If it didn't come at the very time 

I hear the other boys call. 
Jis' when I see 'em a-goin' by 

Wi' their dogs an' guns in a hurry, 
An' I want to go, I hear maw cry 

'At she 's ready to milk ol' Cherry ! 
An' there I stan' wi' the kef by the yur, 

The boys done out o' sight, 
An' maw a-whang, a-whang, jis' like 

She aimed to take all night. 

'Bout sundown 's time for the swimmin'-hole, 

But from me it 's mighty fur : 
That 's jis' the minute each blessed day 

I must ketch the kef by the yur. 

*33 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

The parson, my bud — he 's a preacher, you know, 

But he can't git nowhere to preach — 
Looks on wi' 's thumbs in 'is gallus straps, 

Smilin' sweet as a peach. 
The kef is a fool, don't mean no harm, 

Only wantin' to suck ; 
But sometimes I git so awful mad 

I twisties his yur like a shuck. 

They all say I 'm lazy, no count in the worl', 

Only to raise a row ; 
But I would n't mind workin' all times o' day 

'Cep' the time for milkin' the cow. 
Whenever the fellers go off to swim, 

Along wi' their dogs an' gun, 
That pore white kef, a-wantin' his share, 

Heads off both ends o' my fun. 
But some sweet day I '11 be a man, 

An' when I 'm boss myse'f, 
I '11 ketch ever' boy 'at stays on the place 

An' put him to holdin' a kef ! 

!34 



WHEN THE CALVES GET OUT 

I 've run so long I 'm tired to death ! 

I '11 have to rest a while. 
An' then before I ketch my breath 

They '11 gain about a mile. 
They '11 go an' keep on goin', 

'N' oon't never turn about, 
For they leave an' hush their lowin', 

When the keves git out. 

A cow_ 's a fool about her kef ! 

If she kin steal him off 
She '11 lick him an' enjoy herse'f 

Like fresh salt in her trough. 
An' when you try to head 'em 

It 's a jangle an' a rout. 

135 



LYRICS FROM ( OTTON LAND 

They forgit 't wus you 'at fed 'em, 
When the keves git out. 

Sis she would never milk too late 

('F she had to herd the cows) 
To try the bars an' latch the gate 

'Fore goin' to the house. 
But 't ain't the time for swearin', 

An' 't ain't wuth while to pout ; 
It 's keep the bell in hearin', 

When the keves git out. 

I '11 git some bull to lead the drove, 

An' then I '11 drive 'em slow, 
Ease 'em along from grass to grove, 

So they oon't hardly know. 
It never does to push 'em 

An' run an' rare an' shout ; 
You 're losin' time to rush 'em, 

When the keves git out, 

136 



CATS 

Thar air good p'ints as well as bad, that c'recter- 

izes cats; 
Their purrin' sounds so comf 'table, and then they 

ketches rats. 
They likes to play with chillun, an' they don't take 

much to eat, 
An' thar 's mighty few housekeepers kin head 

'em bein' neat. 

An' yit I never see a cat, to study him a spell, 
But whut thar comes a feelin' that he's back an' 

forth frum hell; 
An' when he purrs an' rubs my leg an' hides his 

crooked claws, 
Thinks I, Whut . split your nose an y yur an' made 

streaks on your jaws? 

*37 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

He 's gentle 'nough about the hearth whar 

Mandy darns an' knits; 
But watch that green light in his eyes when he 

bows his back an' spits ! 
He stays at home till bedtime comes an' then he 

creeps away : 
You '11 see him slippin' back again nex' mornin' 

through the gray. 

He 's mighty cosy on the rug, a-lappin' from a 

cup; 
But he 's the only daddy that will eat his chillun 

up. 
An' when the tabby goes to move, she grabs a 

kitten's head 
An' lets him swing an' flop about like he was 

supp'n' dead. 

To leave him in the room at night, you know, is 
sartain death ; 

138 



CATS 

He '11 snug right 'mongst the blankets an' suck 

the baby's breath. 
I 've been at many a settin'-up with my departed 

kin 
Scared half to death to see them cats, like ghos- 

ties, comin' in. 

I may be hard upon ol' Tom, but Growler hates 

him, too, 
An' when it comes to jedgin' hearts, I think that 

dog will do. 
Tom likes an old maid ; an' he likes to go out in 

the road 
At fall o' dusk an' spend his time a-playin' with 

a toad. 

Sometimes I think I 'd like the job o' goin' round 

the yeth 
An' puttin' every single cat nine separate times to 

death; 

139 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

For thar 's a thousand reasons that I won't take 

time to tell 
Why I am bound to b'lieve a cat is back an' forth 

frum hell. 



140 



TO ALFONSO XIV 

Latest in line of royal sons, 

Pink on your silver platter, 
Despite the bugles, flags and guns, 

And courtiers trained to flatter, 
You hoist your heels, blink at your toes, 

And smile and stare and blubber, 
And are as careless of your clothes 

As any low-born lubber. 

Softly ! you must not understand, 
You muling, sniffling fellow, 

You bear the blood of Ferdinand 
And pious Isabella! 

You cannot know the mingled breed 
Of many kingdoms, growing 

141 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

In your small shape, the fertile seed 
Of long selected sowing. 

When a few years shall give you speech 

And school your legs to bear you, 
What precepts will your masters preach 

For kingship to prepare you ? — 
For fetes and forms and pageantries 

And armies brave with banners, 
Till they accomplish your disguise 

And lose a man in manners. 

Will they insist on prinks and prigs, 

Or let you romp and lark it 
And count your toes for weebit pigs 

A-going all to market ? 
Will they inform your pate with lore 

And ancient classic schooling, 
Or let you read, flat on the floor, 

Old Mother Hubbard's fooling? 

142 



TO ALFONSO XIV 

'T is not through envy of your state 

Or natural plebean malice, 
But could I bribe who guards your gate 

And steal into your palace, 
I 'd smuggle you into the woods, 

When oaks are first in tassel, 
And let you build, in happy moods, 

Many a Spanish castle. 

There you would learn the simple need 

Of laughter, love, and labor, 
The comm.-n fireside ways, the creed 

That binds one to his neighbor. 
But this is idle. I should think 

Of what in reason may be. 
So here your royal health I drink, 

You pink, plump, bareleg baby ! 



H3 



A TOMTIT MESSENGER 

Above the din the alien sparrows made 

In the city's April shade, 
I heard one native note, one tomtit's cry 

Wandering through the sky. 

His tune, though calm, was like a bugle call 

From wood and waterfall, 
And waked the memories of brooks and springs 

And vines and vernal things. 

Faster than his swift wings might drive him there 

My thoughts had traveled where 
The oriole, in his gold and sable dressed, 

Sings near his woven nest ; 



144 





Azalea Nudiflora. 

Ericaceae (Heath Family). 

Wild Azalea. Wild Honeysuckle. 



A TOMTIT MESSENGER 

Where the wide wood but half foregoes its hush 

For the lyric-throated thrush ; 
And where the orchards and the arbors thrill 

With the mock-bird's rapturous bill. 

Only to courts where nature still is queen, 

What time the year grows green, 
These minstrels gather with their varied glee 

To brake and brier and tree, 

And leave the city's cornices and spires 

To those discordant choirs 
Whose breed some ill-directed eastward breeze 

Blew hither o'er the seas. 

To you, you wandering tomtit, for the news 

Of April sounds and hues 
And busy joy of all the woodland brood, 

A stranger's gratitude! 



H5 



TO ONE WHO IS GOOD 

A rainbow's colors canvas'd on a cloud; 

A lone red rose among the burly briers ; 

In winter's chill the glow of friendly fires ; 
A pitying heart where other hearts are proud : 
These are like thee ; and like thee, too, the shroud 

Which beauty spreads upon the dying year, 

Or some sweet star that watches, calm and 
clear, 
Above the sea when waves and winds are loud. 

I know man's life is sick with sin and grief, 
Which age on age hath not sufficed to cure ; 

That sorrow lingers long, but joy is brief, 

And creeds change, but the old, old crimes 
endure : 

Which vasty gloom serves but to lend relief 
To thee, for other souls the cynosure. 

146 



.■:#•; 



WmMtit 




, *>':, 






!'.;*: 



'' v: 



DEW 

I gits my chillun up 'fo' day, 

'Ca'se de dew it makes de cotton weigh. 

I feeds 'em on a chance er peas, 

I ties de pads upon deir knees, 

En 'fo' de day break here we goes, 

Draggin' our sacks betwix' de rows. 

Dem udder niggers do' know why 

My cotton tetch de scales so high. 

Dar 's supp'n' wrong dey speck ; dey know 

Deir famblies gethered row fer row. 

But I jis' squints en spits — key-chew! 

Is I gwine tell 'em 'bout de dew ? 



147 



RACE SUICIDE 

Old bullbat hen, you made no nest. 
With two dull eggs beneath your breast, 
Among the clods, yourself a clod, 
You sit and see the ploughman plod. 

Circling the sunny summer skies, 
Now high, now low, your bullbat flies, 
And stoops anon from out the blue 
To bray his jest of love to you. 

Perhaps your heart is happy when 
You count your duty done, old hen; 
But I would let the bullbat race 
Die out, before I'd take your place. 



148 



RACE SUICIDE 

If I were you, I would not see 
My bullbat swoop and laugh at me, 
Nor be content, along the grass, 
To see his errant shadow pass ; 

But by his side, with wings as good, 
I'd bask in drifting altitude, 
Bellow at clouds and browsing sheep, 
And lull my dust-desires to sleep. 



149 



THE FIRST FLOWER 

Under the leaves on the south of the hill, 
Where the wind and the winter have wasted theif 

will 
And the pale grass whispers and blinks in the sun, 
The season of seven sweet moons is begun ; 

The season of seven fair crescents and crowns, 

Ere the frost and the autumn's slow fruitage em- 
browns 

The green and the crimson, the gold and the 
gloom 

Of woods where the first flower is waked into 
bloom. 

For the first flower is prophet of all that was 

dreams, 

150 



THE FIRST FLOWER 

The dappled lane-shadows, the ripple of streams, 
The old hope and love that so lately were young, 
And the old song that waits once again to be sung. 

Ah, would that the last flower might bloom to 

fulfill 
The pledge of this first on the south of the hill ! 
And would the last moon might incline to its slope 
In memory as sweet as this first is in hope ! 



DEAD 

They spoke sweet words above her bier 

Of some all-happy shore, 
Where no pain comes to cause a tear 

Ever and evermore; 
They made a garden of her grave, 

Where many a fair vine creeps, 
And to her tomb this comfort gave: 

"She is not dead; she sleeps." 

They told me birds would come to sing 

For her a lullaby; 
That for her sake the stars would swing 

Their watch-fires through the sky; 
That conscious winds would will to stir 

The roses at her head, 

*52 



DEAD 

And all the suns would dawn for her, 
Who sleeps, and is not dead. 

They said her spirit loves me still, 

Sees all, and understands. 
But where the lips that spoke her will — 

Where are her eyes and hands ? 
Not all men's prayer that she should live 

Can move the guard of death, 
Nor all the lore of ages give 

Her little body breath. 

The birds may sing, the flowers may start 

Each spring where old flowers were, 
But I can never teach my heart 

That they bear heed to her. 
Nor my fond passion to disguise 

With light the path I grope 
Can give me back her love-lit eyes, 

Her heart-beat, and my hope. 

153 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

I know so little ! It is strange 

A flower should be cut down, 
Ere, with its mates, it suffered change 

To autumn's gradual brown. 
But this I know : should I grow old 

Beyond the years of men, 
I shall not ever, ever hold 

My arms for her again. 



154 



VIEWPOINTS 

Down in his dusty cellar place, 

On a stool of triple legs, 
The apron'd cobbler sits and drives 

His gleaming row of pegs. 

High in his sunlit window nook, 
Above the rumbling mart, 

The poet stares across the hills 
And meditates his art. 

That each bemoans the other's lot 

Is natural human pride; 
For the cobbler sees one side of life, 

And the bard the other side. 



155 



OLD JIM SWINK 

Ihey tell me old Jim Swink is dead 

And buried 'neath the bough 
Of that big cedar in the field 

Where he was wont to plough. 
He liked to sit within that shade 

To cool a bit and think 
That all the land he saw belonged 

To old Jim Swink. 

He made me many a pebble-sling 

And many a locust bow, 
And I would take him water 

To his grassy turning row 
And watch his Adam's-apple move, 

The while he stood to drink, 

156 



OLD JIM SWINK 

Up and down the leathery neck 
Of old Jim Swink. 

We shared our rabbit boxes, 

Our powder, shot, and caps. 
We fared through many a frosty dawn 

To our deadfalls and our traps, 
And ofttimes found in waiting 

A muskrat, coon, or mink. 
He was as much a child as I, 

Was old Jim Swink. 

The cedar berries cluster blue, 

The cedar birds are gay 
Amid the bossy boughs that shade 

The old man's dust to-day. 
He knows no times and seasons now, 

No suns will rise and sink, 
No change of moon suggest his toil 

To old Jim Swink. 

157 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

I do not wish to sing for him 

A song of curious art ; 
This song would be more sweet to him, 

Simple as was his heart. 
He would be glad if he could know 

How tenderly I think 
Of those wild, rough, go-lucky days 

With old Jim Swink. 



158 



THE DOODLE BUG 

Under a log propped high enough to leave a 
sheltered place 

The doodle bug he delves his home and propa- 
gates his race. 

He delves it in the doodle dust and makes it very 
cavey 

That every ant that blunders in may be his meat 
and gravy. 

Here I draw a tickle straw. Linkum, tinkum, 

tire. 
Come up, doodle, doodle bug! Your house is afire. 

The doodle feels the doodle dust cave down where 
he is hid. 



159 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

He thinks an ant's feet must have done what my 

pine needle did. 
He bulges through his powdery floor and jerks 

himself around, 
And then is when I lay him out upon the solid 

ground. 



Weed '11 do; needle, too; willow wand, or wire. 
Come up, doodle, doodle bug! Your house is 
afire. 



You need n't use a straw at all, but blow into his 

home, 
And, yicky, yecky, yerky, jerky, up that bug will 

come. 
No bones, no blood, no hair or heels, no tail, no 

tools for strife, 
A little ball of rubber he, electrified with life. 

160 



THE DOODLE BUG 

Woe and death; blozv your breath; run here and 

respire. 
Doodle, doodle, doodle bug, your house is afire. 

And why the good Lord made him I cannot figure 

out. 
There 's nothing to him but his shape and his 

two-horned snout. 
And how he gets from place to place is more than 

I can tell, 
But where the doodle dust invites the doodle bug 

doth dwell. 

Yinky yanky, snicky snacky. Jerk until you tire* 
Doodle bug, O doodle bug! Your house is afire. 

Perhaps who made the roses sweet and made the 

blue sky fair 
That weary human hearts might find surcease of 

toil and care 

161 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

Designed this dusty delver, this petty beast of 

prey, 
That children might be happier with one more 

game to play. 

Doodle bug, oodle ug, irky, icky, ire. 

Come up to the surface, lad! Your house is afire. 



162 



AUTUMN 

Heavy with sleep is the old farmstead ; 

The windfall of orchards is mellow ; 
The green of the gum tree is shot with red, 

The poplar is sprinkled with yellow. 
Sluggish the snake and leafy the stream ; 

The fieldmouse is fat in his burrow ; 
Sun-up sets millions of dewdrops a-gleam 

Where the late grass is grown in the furrow. 

Oh, the smell of the fennel is autumn's own 
breath, 

And the sumac is dyed in her blood ; 
The charr of the locust is what her voice saith, 

And the cricket is one with her mood. 
Soft are her arms as soft-seeded grass, 

The bluebells at dawn are her eyes, 

163 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

And slow as slow winds are her feet as they pass 
Her bees and her butterflies. 

And when I grow sick at man's sorrow and crime, 

At the pain on pale womanly faces, 
At the fever that frets every heart-throb of time, 

At all that brings grief or debases, 
I thank God the world is as wide as it is, 

That 't is sweet still to hope and remember ; 
That, for him who will seek them, the valleys are 
his 

And the far quiet hills of September. 



164 



THE THREE TOTS 

Three tots went out in the early days 

To see what spring had done. 
"Let 's find us flowers along the ways 

Most like the spring," said one. 
"Let 's find a flower of sky-like blue, 
A flower that for the clouds will do, 
And a flower of such a golden hue 
It well might be the sun." 

One found a crocus, for the sky ; 

And one found, bright and bold, 
A dogwood, white as clouds on high, — 

More clouds than three could hold ; 
And one went far to woodland ways 
And found a jasmine's torch a -blaze. 
So were complete the early days : 

Sapphire, silver, gold. 

165 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

''Would we could meet with Spring," said 
one. 

"Her garden grew these flowers ; 
This crocus-sky, this jasmine-sun, 

These clouds for petal showers. 
'T is not long since she 's been this way. 
She 's wandering in these woods to-day. 
How she 'd be pleased to watch us play 

This game of hers and ours !" 



166 



AT THE DANCE 

She seemed to watch the dancers pass 

And listen to the thrill 
Of flutes and strings that swelled and sank 

As they had had one will. 
She seemed to see and hear and mark 

Each moment's fall and rise. 
Why else that bright rose in her cheek, 

That great light in her eyes ? 

She did not turn about to meet 

His gaze who whispered near ; 
Save for the flutter of her hands, 

She seemed not even to hear. 
She did not part her lips to speak 

A single answering word, 
But there were they who saw her throat 

Quiver, and knew she heard. 

167 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

And there were they who knew her cheek 

Bloomed not from music's art; 
The lustre in her waking eyes 

Could burn but from her heart ; 
The sinuous sounds and lissom steps 

About the lighted hall 
Faintly upon her senses fell 

As the shadows on the wall. 

Hither and thither went the throng ; 

Laughter and life ran high ; 
Gay youth and girlhood passed and took 

The smell of roses by. 
She was not conscious that they lived ; 

Amid their rounds of mirth 
(Save for his presence at her side) 

She was alone on earth. 

It was a blessed hour for her ; 

For them a blessed hour 
Who saw her woman's heart unfold 

168 



AT THE DANCE 

As it had been a flower; 
Who saw a new light in her eyes 

Kindle and grow to dawn — 
The light that none in heaven, and few 

On earth may look upon. 

And they who saw and understood 

Knew hardly what they felt : 
It was as if at some new shrine 

Of beauty they had knelt 
And shared the wonder of a joy 

Whose wordless lips confess 
The height of all high things, the depth 

Of utter tenderness. 



169 



LYRICS FROM C0TT3M LAND 




'FETCH DAT MILLION ROUN' TO ME 
170 



SELFISHNESS 

Dar you is ! Dar you is ! 

I jis' knowed 't wus you. 
Mornin's I is seed yo' trail 

Stragglin' 'cross de dew. 
Dat's why I sayed I 'us gwine off, 

When I wa'n't studyin' gwine : 
I aimed to watch en see you break 

Dat million fum de vine. 
You need n' lie ! I seed you, boy ! 

You need n' try to run ; 
You need n' hide behin' de house, 

'Ca'se dat won't he'p you none. 
But fetch dat million roun' to me. 

I needs dat fruit myse'f . 
You stan' right over dar en see 

If any gwine be lef. 

171 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

You thought you 'd.eat it all, you did, 
Now, all you '11 git 's de rin\ 

I hates dat sich a selfish kid 
Happened to be mine 1 



172 



- DESERTED :* 

She strove to hide 

Her heart-break from us ('t was her maiden 
pride) 

And as she went 

From room to room upon her duty bent 

She made gay quips, 

Nor could we tell a quiver at her lips. 

j 

'When all was still 

Deep in the night, except one whippoorwill, 

We, wakeful yet, 

Heard when she sobbed, and knew her cheeks 
were wet. 

173 



GRANDADDY-LONG-LEGS 

Grandaddy spider, 

Spread your legs wider, 
Sniff some, and study, and scent, 

And show me the way 

My cow went to-day, 
The way that my milk cow went. 

I '11 tickle your back 

To give me her track 
And to tell where she 's browsing now. 

Lift up a foot 

And point it, and put 
Me straight on the trail o' my cow. 



174 



THE CASTLE BUILDER 

Come back, tired dreams, across the sea, and rest 

These other years with me, 
Like weary migrants to an empty nest 

Where singing used to be. 

Tired boyhood dreams, if I had followed you, 

Had done your proud behest, 
Had crossed the purple hills that barred my view 

And braved the giant West, 

Had sailed the Eastern oceans where your wings 

Flashed white against the blue, 
Perhaps they had not been mere shadow kings 

That all our lives we knew, 



175 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

But Pharaoh's realm and Egypt's wine and corn 

And all men's high esteem, 
Had Joseph's courage in my heart been born 

A twin with Joseph's dream. 



17b 



TO-MORROW 

Though sun after sun set on dreams unfulfilled, 
And night after night fall in sorrow, 

Faint hope is revived and old courage new-thrilled 
With the promise that beckons to-morrow. 

She lures every pilgrim from childhod to age ; 

She downs every pillow with pleasure; 
To the ill-guided pencil she lends a new page ; 

She pilots the poor to her treasure. 

The great song for singing, the far height to 
reach, 

The heart that at last makes confession, 
The wisdom that all other days could not teach : 

These are her pledge and possession. 



177 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

For some there is faith, for all there is hope, 
When the dark falls behind and before us, 

And the sun is no more, we shall not need to 
grope, 
But shall find her own face dawning o'er us. 



I78 



A CHOICE 

Our senses wake so stupidly 

From the dim dawn of birth, 
Become so gradually aware 

Of all that makes the earth, 
That, ere we halve our journey, 

Grass and green trees and flowers 
Are common things, and even the sun 

But serves to mark the hours. 

Would you have chosen, had you known 

And heaven been so content, 
To live unconscious of the light, 

Of form and sound and scent, 
Until your heart had learned its wish 

And your brain its guided prime : 
Then to have had the world burst forth 

All in one pulse of time ? 

179 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

I think not. When you came to count 

The quiet tale of years, 
The friendly welcome for each flower 

Whose season reappears, 
The well-trod, unsurprising path 

That leads from dawn to dusk 
And on from April's swelling bud 

To winter's empty husk, 

I do not think that you would take, 

As worth the loss of these, 
A blaze of sudden glory 

That would bring you to your knees ; 
Nor should I wish to stand in awe 

And worship, what I love, 
The old grass cool beneath my feet 

And the old stars calm above. 



180 



THE IRON DOOR 

Whether I gaze into the night 
At suns that seem mere points of light, 
And, framing metaphors to reach 
Through vastness with the art of speech, 
I learn that lighted space is wrought 
Too wide for even the range of thought; 

Or whether in the depths I grope 
For monsters of the microscope 
That prey and sport, are born and die, 
And feel that, 'neath the aided eye, 
Life feeds on life, gate leads to gate, 
Too deep for thought to penetrate : 

How small am I for care or curse 
From the Maker of the universe ! 

181 



LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND 

How great, above the microsprites, 
Thus to be left with broken lights, 
Through toil and prayer and pain, to find, 
If so I can, the Maker's mind ! 

Food, that my body may not die ; 

Love, that my kind may multiply ; 

Birds and fair blooms, that time flow sweet 

Over my head, about my feet : 

And farther would I delve or soar 

I bruise me at an iron door. 



182 



THE TENANT 

To die and to live are the nearest of neighbors, 
And death is to life the closest of kin ; 

Heir to life's harvest of love and her labors, 
The skull waits under the skin. 

But while she endures she guards her possession ; 

Hers is the key to the citadel locks ; 
Even the Lord, when he covets admission, 

Stands at the door and knocks. 

Patient, O Death, thy reign is hereafter, 
Bide thee thy crowning and keep thee apart ! 

Mine this estate, this lease upon laughter, 
Mine all the love in my heart. 



183 



HORSEMINT 

In the calm of summer lanes 
And the hoof-betrodden spaces, 
Idle over-pastured places, 

There the dusty horsemint reigns. 

Not for him the crowded croft, 
Nor the fertile flow of meadow ; 
Not for him the sheltering shadow 

Where the dew-damp soil is soft. 

Monarch of deserted lands, 

Where no bee roams from the thicket, 
Lost to butterfly and cricket, 

Robed in sober hues he stands. 



184 



HORSEMINT 

Safe from scythe or ploughman's share, 
None molest and many love him ; 
Even the ox that breathes above him 

Browses by and leaves him there. 

King is he o'er dearth and death : 
His dim colors have their glory, 
And some hint of far, faint story 

Haunts the August of his breath, 

Waking memories in my heart 
Of its childhood's Eldorado, 
Magic sunshine, shower, and shadow 

In the land without a ch3rt. 



185 



IN THE WOODS. 

Deep in the woods I have loitered to-day; 
Heard the hoarse bees droning summer away : 
Saw the leaf-specters at games witli the breeze, 
And lured a gray squirrel to perch on my knees. 

Plenty and peace were in love with the land, 
Wild apples lifted their fruit to the hand; 
Sweet was the nut and the mast of the pine, 
But sweeter the gift of the wild grapevine. 

I did not affect a rapture unknown 
(May one not be honest when one is alone?) 
But I left free my heart with Nature's to blend 
And share all her secrets as friend shares with 
friend. 

186 



IN THE WOODS 

But she, God's creation, is silent as God, 
Dumb as the blossom she calls from the sod; 
And her worshipper fancies 't is she that reveals 
The wonders and signs that his own spirit feels. 

Over the world from its far, quiet crest, 

The sun-arrows shot aslant from the west, 

And I know not what moved me from out of the 

years, 
But that dying sunset was dim with their tears. 

The forest grew darker, and sank to a hush, 
Save the loud, sudden cry at the roost of the 

thrush, 
And the audible silence, the breath of a sprite, 
The wind and the delicate leaves in the night. 

And in the weird spirit that autumn controls, 
I thought I had felt the presence of souls, 
The mystic desire of the heart ill at ease, 
Which all men pursue and no man may appease. 



187 



TO SLEEP. 

Wherein have I displeased thee, fickle Sleep, 
O, sweetheart, Sleep, that thou so far away 
Hast wandered and hast made so long thy stay ? 

I perish for some spell to call and keep 

Thee near me, that thy gentle arts may steep 
My brain with calm, from dusk till dawn of 

day! 
The night's long hours are blind and love delay, 

But, with thee, I would bless them that they creep. 

Once, night by night, as loves own self wast 
thou; 
Over my boyhood's couch didst loose the 

powers 
Born of the opiate breath of autumn flowers, 

188 



TO SLEEP 

And with thine own cool hand assuaged my 

brow ; 
Wherefore, I pray thee, keep not from me now, 
For I am summer, and thou art her showers. 



189 



THE TAR HEEL LIBRARY 



SONGS MERRY AND SAD. 

By John Charles McNeil. Second edition, with por- 
trait. Price, Cloth, $1.00 net; by mail, $1.06. Limp 
Leather, $1.50 postpaid. 

" McNeil was a poet because he looked life straight in 
the eyes, felt the virgin wonder and glory of it all, and 
knew how to body forth his feeling in lines of exquisite art 
and compelling appeal. ' I would rather have written 
" Songs Merry and Sad " than to have the costliest monu- 
ment in the State erected to my memory.' The equal of 
that little volume has not appeared in the South since Sidney 
Lanier fell on sleep twenty-six years ago." — C. Alphonso 
Smith. 

LYRICS FROM COTTON LAND. 

By John Charles McNeil. Second edition. Illus- 
trated with drawings by A. B. Frost and E. W. Kemble and 
photographs by Mrs. W. O. Kibble with portrait and bio- 
graphical sketch of the author ; also description and picture of 
famous " Patterson Cup." Artistically bound in Bandana 
Cloth. Price $1.50 postpaid. 

" Lyrics from Cotton Land " will remain a priceless leg- 
acy to the children of the South. It is a voice that had be- 
come almost a memory. It is a key to the treasure house 
of a period fast receding. It glorifies with simple and soul- 
ful melody the tender grace of a day that is dead. ' Uncle 
Remus,' up to the advent of the brilliant young Scotchman, 
was the most faithful and. accurate exponent of ' Mr. Nig- 
ger,'; in the realm of letters; but Joel Chandler Harris is 
not a whit more lifelike in his portrayal of the language as 
well* as the spirit of the old-time darkey than John Charles 
McNeil."— Charity & Children. * 



STONE k BARRINGER CO., 

Publishers 

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA 




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